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Are you flying the flag for the Black Country?

By john.butterworth  |  Posted: July 17, 2013

Flying the flag - Community Minister Eric Pickles and Dudley South MP Chris Kelly

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What did you do on Black Country Day? Did your family celebrate with a traditional faggots and pays and a blast of Slade.

Was there a flurry of “Ow am yer” greetings on Facebook or Twitter or our own website? Or was Sunday, July 14 simply noted in your diary as the more famous Bastille day?

It is now hoped to establish this date firmly in the annual calendar as Black Country Day to celebrate the uniqueness and pride of the area. July 14 was specifically chosen because it is the anniversary of the invention in the region of the world’s first steam engine. 

And while the Black Country itself may have let the day pass without too much fuss, down in London, it was attracting the attention of the higher echolons of Government.

For a specially commissioned flag was hoisted above the London offices of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s offices to mark the inaugural day last Sunday. The flag references the famous chains of Cradley Heath and the only remaining glass cone. 

Eric Pickles, minister for the Department, said: “It is right to celebrate the Black Country, one of England's industrial giants. The Black Country is defined by geology; it respects no human or administrative boundaries and its origins run deep. When Britain was the workshop of the world, the Black Country was the workshop of Britain. The history and identity of the Black Country is one to be proud of and cherished, and undoubtedly worthy of preservation for future generations.” 

As the flag was raised, Mr Pickles was joined by Dudley South MP Chris Kelly who said: “I would like to see more of these Black Country flags flying proudly in our area and I congratulate the Black Country Living Museum for their work on the flag.”

 The flag was designed by Gracie Sheppard, aged 11, of Redhill School, Stourbridge, who said her inspiration was from Elihu Burrit, the American Consul to Birmingham who described the region as: “black by day and red by night”. It was the winning design in a competition run in conjunction with the Black Country Living Museum.

Andrew Lovett, director and chief executive at the Black Country Living Museum, said: “We are delighted at this opportunity for the flag to wave the banner for the region’s unique identity, and its rich and diverse heritage.”

Here at the Black Country Bugle, we would love to get on board and help Black Country Day become an annual day of festivities to remember. So how would you like to see it marked next year? With a concert? A vintage fair perhaps? Or maybe a film show of days gone by? Or a celebration of today's Black Country with school children and the younger generation taking part.

Share your views with us on this page, and let July 14 be claimed as its own for the Black Country. 

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