Friday, May 27, 2016

England: Black Country

Black Country isn't so black anymore. Thankfully. Located in the midlands of England, this area was known for it's coal mining, hence the name.

The coal industry boomed in the Victorian era. Coal was needed not only to heat homes but also for steam engines and for making iron. It's got a distinct smell when it burns and it puts off black smoke, coating everything with soot. Because of that -- and the pinched, filthy faces of the poor that lived in this area -- whenever Queen Victoria chanced to travel past, she ordered that the windows of her coach be drawn shut so she didn't have to see the bleak blackness.

Mines were abundant, as were the workers. Here is what an average company house looked like on the outside.

And on the inside:

This one room was your kitchen, living room, laundry room, dining room, and parlor. Upstairs was your other room. A bedroom. For you and your spouse and however many children you had. The bathroom was outside and you shared it with 8 other families. But generally during the day no one was home. The men were all at the mines, as were most of the children (from 5 years old on up) and the women worked as well. Here's what one of the entrances looked like.

The conditions were cramped, damp, and dangerous. Many men and children lost their lives. But these were stalwart people who took pride in supplying England and much of the world with coal and the iron produced here. 

Sundays were special days even if you couldn't make it to church. Sometimes the church came to you, such as this traveling Wesleyan missionary car.

The inside was all decked out. What current trend does this remind you of?

Methinks those Methodists were way ahead of their time with this tiny house!


chappydebbie said...

I know what you's just like those tiny houses/trailers that they sale today.
This is so fascinating, but sad about how the children had to work and die in the mines.

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