Today marks the Black Country’s industrial heritage on the anniversary of the invention of the world’s first steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, built in 1712 at the Coneygree Coalworks near Dudley.
For those who aren’t local, The Black Country, in the West Midlands, is roughly made up of towns within the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, although the official border has been the subject of debate for many years and it is said that “no two Black Country men or women will agree on where it starts or ends”. The name has been in use since the mid 19th century and is thought to refer to the colour of the coal seam or the air pollution from the many thousands of foundries and factories around at the time, with the area being famously described as ‘black by day and red by night’. This phrase is what inspired local school-girl, Gracie Sheppard from Redhill School in Stourbridge, to design the official Black Country Flag which was then registered with the Flag Institute in July 2012.
After the industrial revolution, the Black Country became one of the most industrialised regions in Britain with coal mines, coking, iron foundries, glassworks, brickworks and steel mills producing high levels of smoke and soot. In 1911, N. Hingley & Sons, a large scale chain and anchor manufacturing works based in Cradley & Netherton, made the anchor for the Titanic! It was towed to Dudley train station by 20 shire horses.
We’ve got a while to go yet until it’s our turn to celebrate 309 years, but we’re very proud to have just celebrated our 70th year after being established in 1951 with the mission to design, develop and build testing machinery to serve the local chain making industry in the Black Country.