Black Country Man


Monday’s dominoes; Thursday’s crib; Sunday I goo up the pub and I play dominoes with me friends.

Bob Williams

What happened on D-day, we come to Gold Beach where the British forces were going ashore, but it was choc-a-block we couldn’t get ashore…I was in the first tank to fire on German soil; that was mentioned in the papers…but to tell you the truth, I really got tired of killing. I don’t know how to explain it really.

Len Beddow

Following on from the successful Multistory project and publication ‘Women at Work in Sandwell and the Black Country: 1914-2014‘, which looked in depth at the working lives of Black Country women, ‘Black Country Man’ was commissioned by Multistory to explore the lives of 27 men who originate from, or who now live in, the Black Country. Their stories offer personal, real life accounts of an area that is rich in history and heritage.

In their own words, we hear about the decline of production and manufacturing; tales from school days and early childhood memories; reflections on troubled times, personal conflict and political unrest; racial inequality; leisure; food; celebratory events; and tender accounts of all kinds of relationships. Focused on the every day and the ordinary, this book reveals the endeavours and achievements of the men of the Black Country.

Illustrated by a series of specially chosen photographic images, the book contains a mixture of historic and contemporary imagery accompanying the stories. These come from a range of sources including the Archive Services from the four Black Country boroughs; and the personal collections of participants. Other photographs come from acclaimed photographers Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows, John Bulmer, Nick Hedges and Vanley Burke.

Book Launch
The book was launched  in June 2015, at a special event at West Bromwich Town Hall for project participants and their friends and family. As well as the presentation of the book, there were speeches, live music and Cradley Heath’s finest bread pudding.

The full interviews are available as audio files and are stored with Sandwell’s Community History and Archives Service (CHAS) and at the Black Country Living Museum.

Documentary designer Graham Peet was commissioned to select the photographs, edit and design the book. Writer and performance poet, Emma Purshouse conducted the interviews with Neil Price, a local Black Country enthusiast.

Black Country Man is part of a series of publications Multistory is commissioning about life in Sandwell and the Black Country.  The book is available to buy from our shop.