View Full Version : The Black Country, ENGLAND

November 8th, 2007, 04:04 AM
This week in the Black Country, Sunny one day, Cloudy the next.





March 11th, 2008, 09:44 PM
Yes, good weather looks too little you

March 12th, 2008, 10:40 AM
Kagmag. :D

An old Black Country expression.

Great photos, dad was born near there. Good to see them up here at WNW.

Keep them coming.



March 13th, 2008, 07:07 AM
The Waterfront, an office and entertainment development on the site of the former Round Oak Steelworks.










March 13th, 2008, 01:55 PM
Reminds me of upper Hudson areas like Yonkers, for some reason. Nice photos.

March 27th, 2008, 07:59 AM
The Bull and Bladder, Brierley Hill.


March 27th, 2008, 02:47 PM
Ever been to the black country museum brianac?

March 27th, 2008, 05:20 PM
I haven't been for a few years, but just yesterday I was thinking of going soon, to take a few photographs.

March 28th, 2008, 05:19 AM
Oh, Meercat ,I forgot to ask. Were you ever at the Black Country Museum?

March 29th, 2008, 05:19 AM
we have just booked to go away for New Year to Ludlow (near the Cotswolds), not far from the black country


we have rented a cottage for a week, love this area of England, there is lots of history, and even a castle in Ludlow, has anybody been?


March 29th, 2008, 05:49 AM
Yes I like Ludlow too. I make a visit there every now and again. I love the butcher's shops there, great selection of foods.
I have also been there for the horse racing, and spent five days there a good few years back working as an EXTRA on the filming of "Blott on the Landscape" for TV.

March 29th, 2008, 07:27 AM
our cottage is attached the the old broad gate, really looking forward to it. Sorry never heard of "Blott on the Landscape" who was in it beside yourself?

Any tips or recommendations ?

March 29th, 2008, 07:41 AM
Blott on the Landscape.



Another of my MUST HAVES! Superb adaptation of a Tom Sharpe novel with excellent characterisations from David Suchet as Blott, (man of mystery and servant at Handyman Hall), Geraldine James as Lady Maud (the biological clock is running out and she wants an heir), George Cole, (Sir Giles, her scheming politican husband), the delightful Mrs Forthby (a soft and unlikely dominatrix who panders to the politician's rather peculiar tastes) played by Julia Mckenzie, and Simon Cadell (ex BBC Coldtiz and Hi-De-Hi)as a bumbling ministry trouble shooter.
The Kleene Gorge inwhich Handyman Hall is rurally nestled, is the long held home within Lady Maud's family, and is threatened by a bypass. George Cole enmeshed in the twists and turns of politics and with an eye to lining his own pocket dares to take on his Wife, the indominitable Lady Maud who's right hand man Blott will do all he can to protect her and the family seat!
Set in and around the beautiful real life market town of Ludlow in Shropshire, we can only sit back helplessly and watch events unfold.. in typical Tom Sharpe fashion!

March 29th, 2008, 07:50 AM
Ludlow is famous for it's good selection of restaurants.

There is Ludlow Castle, and don't forgrt to visit "The Feathers Hotel" built in 1619, a wonderful half timbered building.

If you fancy a trip, half an hour away is Ironbridge, a nice little town, and of course the worlds first iron bridge.

March 29th, 2008, 07:58 AM
thanks Brian, we will be traveling around in the car in the day, and I do intend to go to Ironbridge

will keep an eye out for Blott on Landscape, maybe it will be repeated on BBC, what was your part

March 29th, 2008, 08:08 AM
Extras don't have parts, you are just one of the crowd.

I did get in shot on several scenes, The Courthouse, The Protest March, The Market Place Riot, these are what I remember.

March 29th, 2008, 09:03 AM
my uncle gets called up to be an extra, he says the money is quite good, he has been on Casualty and The Bill and other things (cannot remember)

March 30th, 2008, 10:37 AM
Oh, Meercat ,I forgot to ask. Were you ever at the Black Country Museum?

Yes, about 10 years ago, with my mum. Very interesting.

March 31st, 2008, 06:37 PM
Yes I like Ludlow too.

A beautiful Shropshire town. I've been to Ludlow scores of times as i have a friend who lives in Aston on Clun, about 4 miles away.

Turkishann - you must go to Ironbridge!! The museums are fascinating (there are about 8 along the gorge there), some of my ancestors used to work in the iron works in that area. And while you're there go to Shrewsbury - my home town.

I'm very proud of my Shropshire heritage, although my last link with shropshire has gone with the recent death of my gran. I'll still go up of course, now and again - maybe i'll swing by Dudley for a beer Brian :).

April 6th, 2008, 02:51 AM
Not so Black this morning. Sunday 6th April 2008 The view from my kitchen window.


April 8th, 2008, 12:55 PM
meerkat, I really want to go to Ironbridge, and we nearly booked a cottage in Clun, I will of course also visit Shrewbury, Shropshire is one of the places we have not been in the UK, here is the cottage we have booked


it is attached the old broadgate that surrounded the castle and village hundreds of years ago,

Brian the photos is lovely, wish I was there

April 16th, 2008, 01:29 PM
The Black Country Living Museum
Historic buildings from all around the Black Country have been moved and rebuilt at the Museum to create a tribute to the traditional skills and enterprise of the people that once lived in the heart of industrial Britain.
With a changing programme of demonstrations there is something to suit all tastes, from sweet-making and glass-cutting to metal working. Visit the horses. Enjoy a pint of ale in the Bottle and Glass Inn, chat by the coal-fired ranges or just soak up the atmosphere.
· Electric tram rides · Newcomen steam engine · Underground mine tours
· Toll house and tilted cottage · Old time fairground · School · Ironworks
· Old village - shops, houses, cottages, cinema, stables, foundry.
· Canal tunnel trips.








A typical "back parlour" of a a chainmakers house

The outhouse that housed the chainmakers forge.

The chainmakers forge.

An anchor made in the Black Country.

April 25th, 2008, 07:31 AM
The ruin of Dudley Castle still watches over the town, as it has done for centuries.


Dudley Castle was built by the Normans. Providing protection since around 1071 the castle saw many changes over the centuries. The infamous John Dudley rebuilt the castle in the Renaissance style only to be beheaded by Queen Mary for trying to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England.

The civil war came and went with Dudley Castle having supported the Royalist cause and surrendering in 1646 after the defeat of Charles I at Naseby. In 1750 a fire all but destroyed the accommodation at Dudley Castle. The fire is said to have burned for three days. The huge expense of restoration left the family with no choice but to move to nearby Himley Hall. The descendents of the family founded Dudley Zoo in 1937.


As you walk round the grounds of the ruined castle, with its spectacular views across the Black Country, a sudden screeching of a parakeet reminds you how well the zoo has blended with the historic remains of the old castle that has now become home to dozens of animals from around the globe.

Himley Hall

In 1740 Himley Hall was a manor with a medieval moated manor house. The owner John Ward of Sedgley demolished it and commenced the Himley Hall that we know of today. The building was not completed in one phase and gradually progressed into a grand hall over a period of some eighty years. With gardens by 'Capability Brown' the Hall has undergone many changes. The most significant and recent were in 1823 by the architect William Atkinson.

The hall was the home of the Ward family who had links with the royal family. Royalty has stayed at the hall and Edward VIII used to be a regular visitor. The Hall is now owned by the Wolverhampton and Dudley District Council which includes the parklands of some 180 acres.

April 26th, 2008, 04:45 AM
great photos Brian, I love visiting castles, keep the photos coming :D

April 26th, 2008, 04:50 AM
Thanks Ann, and a Happy Birthday for tomorrow.

April 26th, 2008, 06:42 AM
The Black country museum is a wonderful day out, well worth the visit for anyone in the area. I remember the underground mine tour - Some of my ancestors worked in mines in the Bilston area in the mid 19th century.

So Anne, 21 again? ;) Happy birthday.

June 24th, 2008, 11:32 AM
Nice to see some pictures of the Black Country region.

My names Pete and I run a new community website for the BlackCountry region aimed at bringing together people who either still live in the area, are ex pats to the Black Country or simply have an interest in the region.

The website is Called BlackCountryGob (http://www.blackcountrygob.com) and can be found at http://www.blackcountrygob.com (http://www.blackcountrygob.com)

Black Country Gob (http://www.blackcountrygob.com)has a wide range of sections including discussion forums, (http://www.blackcountrygob.com/modules.php?name=Forums) Local directory, (http://www.blackcountrygob.com/modules.php?name=Web_Links) Instant Chat room, (http://www.blackcountrygob.com/modules.php?name=Live_Chat), Genealogy section,fun and games, quizzes and our very own picture gallery (http://www.blackcountrygob.com/Photogallery)

We have members from all over the world and even though the group is still new it's growing daily and is a great place to have a chat with some very friendly true Black Country folk.

Come along and say hello at www.Blackcountrygob.com

See you there

September 24th, 2008, 06:30 AM
A few of the species on display.











September 24th, 2008, 06:52 AM
Some of the 1930's buildings at Dudley Zoo.

They are somewhat worse for wear now, and few of them are used for the purpose for which they were built.










An article about these buildings.


September 24th, 2008, 03:38 PM
Beautiful photos Brian.

September 24th, 2008, 05:12 PM
Thanks NYC4,

I managed to get up there with the camera for a couple of hours last Friday (19th. September 2008) when the weather was decent.

January 26th, 2009, 01:19 PM
hi all came across this site whilst wondering around the web if any of you are intrested in the uk im a member of a genealogy site http://www.genealogyforum.co.uk/forum/index.php we have a special section for the black country but also have a growing section on the english counties, this includes maps, pictures, places to visit ,and dictionary of the old english regional dialects which seem to be disapearing in this modern age this includes voice recording, saying even the odd translator and local recipies so if you got nothing to do pay use a visit :)

October 8th, 2009, 08:09 PM
Some of the 1930's buildings at Dudley Zoo.


An article about these buildings.


Dilapidated animal enclosures of Dudley Zoo given the same protection as Machu Picchu

By David Derbyshire (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/search.html?s=y&authornamef=David+Derbyshire)
Last updated at 10:54 AM on 08th October 2009

Dilapidated, shabby and overwhelmingly grey, they are loved and hated by visitors in equal measure.

But according to a new report, the decaying 1930s animal enclosures of Dudley Zoo are among the most precious and vulnerable historic monuments in the world.

The World Monuments Fund has added the Art Deco buildings to its latest Watch List of threatened heritage sites - a catalogue of neglect that also includes Machu Picchu in Peru.

The architecture at the Dudley Zoo, including the birdhouse, pictured, is the only surviving group of Tecton buildings in the UK

The 12 listed pavilions at Dudley Zoo were created by the world famous Tecton group and are regarded as one of the UK's best examples of modernist architecture.

Half of the surviving buildings, built between 1935 and 1937, are still used for animals - and include the bear ravine, polar bear pit and birdhouse.

But many were later deemed unsuitable on welfare grounds and were demolished or converted.

A spokesman for the World Monuments Fund Britain said the collection was the only surviving group of Tecton buildings left in the UK.

'Neglect, construction issues, and alterations have left the Tecton buildings in a general state of dilapidation and deterioration,' a spokesman said.

'Some can no longer function as they once did because of their current disrepair and the changing standards of zoo and animal management.'

The latest World Monuments list contains 93 endangered sites - six from the British Isles.

They include the Georgian Sheerness Dockyard on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The dockyard features Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings and ancient scheduled monuments.

The list also includes the gothic Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church in Belfast. The church was once home to one of the largest Methodist congregations in the city, but has been derelict for nearly 20 years.

Five graveyards in central Edinburgh, with graves dating from the early 17th to the late 19th centuries including headstones for economist Adam Smith and inventor Robert Stevenson are highlighted after suffering years of vandalism, exposure to the elements and neglect, the fund said.

Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the threatened heritage sites on the World Monuments Fund's Watch List

According to the World Monuments Fund Britain, the list helps to give monuments the recognition they need to survive. The list was compiled by heritage experts from a long list of sites nominated by the public.


Edinburgh Historic Graveyards, Scotland
Five graveyards containing headstones of economist Adam Smith, inventor Robert Stevenson and philosopher David Hum.
Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast
Derelict for nearly 20 years, this Gothic church from 1875, was once home to the largest Methodist congregations in Belfast.

The Tecton Buildings, Dudley Zoo, West Midlands
Built out of reinforced concrete in the 1930s, and designed by the Tecton Group. One of the most important examples of modernist architecture in the UK.
Sheerness Dockyard, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
Many of the Georgian docks, boathouses and buildings - completed in 1815 - are decaying and neglected.

St John the Evangelist Parish Church, Shobdon, Herefordshire
Unsafe and rotting in places, the church is 'outstanding example' of mid 18th century Rococo Gothic style.

Explore more:

Places: Edinburgh (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/cities/edinburgh), Belfast (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/cities/belfast), Ireland (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/countries/ireland), Peru (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/countries/peru), Scotland (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/countries/scotland), United Kingdom (http://explore.dailymail.co.uk/locations/countries/united_kingdom)
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1218811/Tecton.html#ixzz0TONAB2TT (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1218811/Tecton.html#ixzz0TONAB2TT)

© 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd (http://www.and.co.uk/)

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As they swoop, swerve, plunge, and wind, the playful undulations of the Dudley Zoo’s Tecton buildings weave themselves into the natural landscape. Constructed between 1935 and 1937, the 12 structures comprising the complex were designed by the Tecton practice, a London-based association founded in 1932 by Berthold Lubetkin that was instrumental in bringing modernist architecture to Britain. This complex survives as the only collection of interrelated Tecton designs in Britain and one of few remaining throughout Europe. The 12 buildings, which include six animal enclosures, the zoo’s entrance, two cafes, a restaurant, and two kiosks, are located on the grounds of the 13th/14th-century Dudley Castle. Solid cement construction retains the appearance of levity and weightlessness, forgoing linear design to follow the natural curves of its surroundings. Intended to harmonize with their environment, the structures follow the steep inclines of the region’s hills and wooded areas.
Neglect, construction issues, and alterations have left the Tecton buildings in a general state of dilapidation and deterioration. Some can no longer function as they once did because of their current disrepair and the changing standards of zoo and animal management. Nevertheless, the buildings help define the zoo’s identity and unique character while remaining a significant architectural achievement

The World Monuments Fund site.

November 14th, 2009, 06:43 AM
Dudley Zoo: Save the Tectons

The Thirties buildings of Dudley Zoo are suddenly attracting attention – because they have been listed as endangered in the World Monuments Fund.

By Sophie Campbell
Published: 11:01AM GMT 13 Nov 2009

Dudley's Zoo buildings have received even more limelight than its animals in recent weeks Photo: DOUG MCKINLAY

Sarah the Sumatran tiger Photo: Doug McKinlay

The distinctive entrance to Dudley Zoo Photo: Doug McKinlay

Last month, to the surprise of its regulars, Dudley Zoological Gardens in the West Midlands popped up on a worldwide endangered list. Not because of Sarah, its Sumatran tiger, or its rare Asian lions, its Humboldt penguins or the black lemurs for which it holds the European stud book.

DZG, as it is known, was the sole 20th-century British entry on the World Monuments Fund's 2010 Watch List – of world-class buildings threatened by "neglect, demolition or disaster" – for its 12 Thirties pavilions designed by the architect Berthold Lubetkin and his Tecton Group.

"This is the best-surviving collection of Tecton buildings in the world," explains Jon Wright of the Twentieth Century Society, which helped bring the pavilions to the attention of the list committee. "There's nothing else that comes close."

"What buildings?" says 17-year-old James Bissell, from Birmingham, wandering about the zoo on an overcast autumn day with Melissa, a fellow student on the animal care course at Solihull College.

"You mean the castle?"

He isn't the only one. Not a single visitor I meet that day has noticed the buildings and nobody knows they are architectural superstars. The medieval castle, right in the middle of the zoo, attracts far more attention.

"What's famous about them?" wonders Melissa, when I explain. "They're quite old-fashioned. I like that. That's very Black Country. It's quite industrial and the buildings suit it. I've been coming for years; I'd hate it if it changed."

It's only when you get into DZG that you realise how extraordinary it is.

The zoo runs in concentric circles around a hill, on top of which a motte-and-bailey castle was built in 1071, later owned by the earls of Dudley.

The whole hill is covered with glorious beech trees, beneath which are not only limestone caverns – one said to be the size of St Paul's Cathedral – burrowed out for lime used as building material, fertiliser and flux in the steel furnaces, but also some of the most famous fossil beds in the geological firmament. There's even a trilobite called the "Dudley Bug" that used to be on the town's coat of arms.

It was the third earl who decided to fund the castle upkeep by building a zoo. Animal collections were fashionable among the rich at the time; he was given his by Frank Cooper, of marmalade fame. They were joined by Edward Marsh, a wealthy local businessman whose company claimed to make "the world's greatest sausage".

Lubetkin, a Georgian émigré responsible for buildings at Whipsnade and London Zoos – the Penguin Pool is still a favourite, despite having no penguins – was an obvious choice of architect.

At the moment, entry is not propitious; you park next to a disused cinema at the bottom of the hill and walk up to go in through the zoo shop. Out of the corner of your eye, you may notice the sort of entrance gate that would look at home in Miami: five peppermint-green concrete waves,
interlocking over slender green columns of steel, framing the gigantic white letters Z – O – O.

"It was a place of wonderment," said Peter Suddock, the zoo's chief executive for 17 years. "You've got to remember that there was no television, hardly any photography in the papers, people were seeing live animals for the first time." When it opened in May 1937, more than 50,000 people poured under the green waves, bought rock and gobstoppers from two futuristic ovoid kiosks and swarmed on to the slender concrete terraces swooping above and around the animals.

There must be older people all over the West Midlands who remember their first weird, lanky giraffes, the polar bears plunging into the pool and the elephants picking up keepers in their trunks, to the joy of the crowds.

Zoos have changed profoundly in 70 years. You can't have polar bears any more, the last elephants went in 2003 and DZG now works on conservation, education and controlled breeding programmes with other European zoos. It is no longer fashionable to look down on animals, so many of the concrete terraces are now sealed off to the public, and only the sea lion pool is used for its original purpose. By modern standards the buildings are too small, too dark, not well enough heated for animals, though at the time they were radically innovative.

Today, the busy modern zoo works around its illustrious, dated infrastructure. Looking at the Bear Ravine, which, like most of the Tectons, was built into the caverns and sink holes made by the limestone workings, is like looking at a beautiful actress long past her prime; ravaged or not, the bone structure is still fabulous.

Somehow the overgrown, unused terraces manage to convey a deck-and-railings effect, a sense of breezy confidence reminiscent of a Thirties cruise ship, though the view from the deck would have been an ocean of chimneys and a horizon of smoke; the West Midlands industrial landscape.

The structurally sound Tectons have been adapted: the Moat Café, once an open-sided, sinuous curve, is now a glassed-in Discovery Centre, and Itar the Asian lion – soon to be joined by two new females – prowls around the former Bird House, a drum-shaped building with a circular terrace. The interior, once lined with cages full of tropical birds, now contains sandpits full of Dudley toddlers. Itar lounges on the terrace like a bored billionaire, being photographed through the windscreen of a "Jeep" protruding ingeniously through a flanking wall.

All over the zoo, people are leaning on low parapets – some with their original ridged surfaces, like concrete corduroy – to look at the meerkats or marvel at the sea lions in their double-teardrop pool.

Half the pool once housed a killer whale; now the sea lions – a male and two females – flop portentously through the gap, all shivering, sleek, grey blubber, to torpedo through the salt water.

The funny thing is that even though we have television and many people have seen wildlife abroad the animals still delight. I find myself grinning idiotically at the sheer precision of sea lion frolics. Fiona Bond, from Wolverhampton, who has brought Emily, 11, and Charlotte, eight, along, is "not into zoos" and is startled to find how much her daughters are enjoying it. They have seen the lemurs and been in the Jeep. They love the gibbon hooting at the top of a beech tree.

A question that might fairly be asked by fans of the animals, rather than the buildings, is why all the fuss? Jon Wright patiently explains. "Lubetkin believed in Modernism's ability to improve society," he says. "You can view Dudley Zoo as a blueprint for a Modernist city, albeit one for animals, rather than humans."

Dr Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of WMF Britain, agrees: "It was about improving society, but also looking after animals – and the joy of seeing animals. It would be lovely to keep that spirit alive and do building conservation, too."

Peter Suddock is the first to admit that, on the long haul up from the Eighties, a nadir for many zoos, the priority was animal welfare and visitors. The buildings took a back seat. Now they are on the Watch List, he observes drily, "people are suddenly interested in Dudley".

With 235,000 visitors a year, almost 1,000 animals and a bit of surplus income, the zoo is planning a Heritage Lottery Fund bid. "We'll do a Tecton Trail, anyway, to explain why they're important," he says. "The animals are still the main thing, though; you wouldn't get these visitor numbers for the buildings without the zoo."

Dudley Zoo basics

Dudley Zoological Gardens & Castle (01384 215313; www.dudleyzoo.org.uk) (http://www.dudleyzoo.org.uk) are open from 10am to 3pm in winter, except for Christmas Day. Adult: £11.90 (including £1.10 Gift Aid), concessions: £8.70, child: £7.70, children under three free. Car parking £3 per day.
'Keeper for A Day' experiences cost £185 for one adult and £250 for two. 'Little Zoo Keepers' (8-13 years) cost £105 for one, £170 for two.
The legacy of Berthold Lubetkin

The Twentieth Century Society (020 7250 3857; www.c20society.org.uk) (http://www.c20society.org.uk) is 30 years old this year and organises tours and lectures on post-1914 British architecture. Contact the society for details for 2010 Tecton Tours at Dudley Zoo.

The World Monuments Fund Britain (020 7730 5344; www.wmf.org.uk) (http://www.wmf.org.uk) is a non-governmental organisation for the protection of cultural heritage in Britain and has just published its worldwide Watch List 2010.

Most surviving examples of Lubetkin's British work are in the capital. London Zoo's Gorilla House has gone but the Penguin Pool (1933-34), with its famous interlocking waddleways, is still there.

Grade I-listed Finsbury Health Centre (1935-38), Clerkenwell, can be seen from the outside; its future is currently under discussion.
Highpoint One (1933-35) and Two (1936-38), North Hill, Hampstead, are early apartment blocks that were originally planned as housing for workers but were soon sought after by middle-class fans (Lubetkin had a penthouse in the latter). They can be seen from the outside.


© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2009

December 26th, 2009, 05:59 PM
A SLIDE SHOW (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lsXIOzvQFY) I put together.

December 26th, 2009, 07:06 PM
Pastoral England: captivating. Thanks Brian.