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The Black Country 1969

The Black Country 1969

And so begins Gwyn Richards' poetical narration of this poignant and atmospheric profile of the people and character of the Black Country, the ‘birthplace and the cradle of the industrial revolution'.

This half an hour long documentary made by ATV Today in 1969 explores the changing industry and landscape of the region through the eyes of its people.

90 year old Hannah Baker lives in a recently condemned end-terrace in Tipton with its original open grate and no electricity. Mrs Baker remembers when she was a child the evenings would be lighter, the sky lit up beautifully by the furnaces.

Herbert Davies and Gerald Billingham forge chains by hand at Cradley Heath and Quarry Bank from 4am ‘til 10.30am each working day. Herbert ‘scorns weaker men.

While having a pint, chain making legend and prize dog owner Joe Mallen uses glasses to simulate the process of dog fighting and TV presenter Phil Drabble describes the brutal sport of cock fighting.

A Bradley pub is packed with regulars singing Somebody Stole My Gal to piano while the landlady serves up free pie and ‘paes' at Grey ‘Paes' Pudding Night; Dr John Fletcher of The Black Country Society talks of how locals possess a strong sense that they belong to a small group, whether it be a street, a town or area; and Black Country poet Harry Harrison talks of the region's particular sense of humour.

With poetry, rhyme, songs and stills from the region entwined with Gwyn Richards' rich commentary, a host of colourful characters and powerful shots of the industrial landscape, this documentary provides a moving insight into the Black Country in the 1960s.

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