Fictional stories and oral histories created for the Black Country Stories project.
Black Country Women
In 2012, Multistory invited Dame Margaret Drabble to visit the Black Country and write about the lives of women who live and work in the Black Country. We also commissioned Martin Parr to take photographs to reflect Margaret’s writing. This unique collaboration between Margaret and Martin resulted in the ‘Black Country Women’ magazine. Margaret has written three beautiful, locally resonant, short stories: ‘That Lucky Dress’, ‘Hot Pork Sandwich’ and ‘Going Home’. Each of the stories has been informed and shaped by the conversations and stories that Margaret experienced from talking with local women.
The stories are read by Wolverhampton-based writer and performance poet, Emma Purshouse.
Images are by Martin Parr and feature in Black Country Women magazine.
Hot Pork Sandwich
A handsome stranger comes into the café …
That Lucky Dress
She looked a princess, she looked a sweet heart, she looked a bobby dazzler.
I hadn’t been back since mum died and that was years ago …
As part of the Black Country Stories programme, oral history producer Julia Letts and local volunteers went out and about in the Black Country to gather a series of wonderful audio recordings of some of the people that Martin Parr photographed to capture their stories.
The oral history team recorded in factories, people’s homes, gyms and many other locations.
“The photos told some wonderful stories and gave me a glimpse of the working and personal lives of ordinary Black Country people. My job was to record some of the voices behind the photos. This has meant travelling around to many homes and work places and recording oral history interviews with some of the people Martin photographed. It has been a privilege.” Julia Letts
Each of the sound files has an accompanying image by Martin Parr so you can play the audio and see a glimpse of where it has come from.
A nation of animal lovers
It is said that Britain is a nation of animal lovers. Listen to people from around the Black Country talking about animals and what their pets mean to them.
Jim Beaufoy talks passionately about the history of the breed and his love of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Michelle Owen explains how the image of ferrets has dramatically changed over the past 20 years.
Jim Brookes talks about why ferrets are special.
Here people talking about their bodies, fashion, how they view themselves and how other people see them.
Mark Smith talks about how long it takes to do his make-up and to dress horribly.
Kevin Brown (part 1)
Kevin Brown of Isis Gym in Walsall is a world champion discus thrower and has represented Great Britain and Jamaica. Here he explains how it all started.
Kevin Brown (part 2)
Kevin talks about the inspiration behind Isis gym and where the name came from.
The Black Country is well known for its industrial heritage. Here we listen to stories of some of the local people still working in these factories.
Tom Sharland’s family has been involved in the leather trade in Walsall for more than 200 years. In its heyday, the family firm was a major employer in the town.
Richard Farrow, Managing Director of Sedgwick’s, explains what happens to a hide when it arrives at the factory to be ‘dressed’.
Wendy Smith is a leather preparer at Launer London in Walsall (who supply the Royal Family!). She loves the fact that every handbag is personally handmade for each client.