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WestMIDLANDS

The West Midlands, land of Mercia, slap bang in the middle of Great Britain can claim, quite rightly to be the birthplace of the industrial revolution. It began when Abraham Darby substituted coke in place of charcoal to smelt iron at his Old Furnace. While nearby Ironbridge Gorge lays claim to being the actual birth place. The Black Country isn’t called the black country for no good reason. Named after the billowing smoke that consumed the region from the foundries forging a new beginning. It was often said the area was black by day and red by night from the fires. A land that influenced JR Tolkien with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mordor; the ‘black lands’ that threaten the countryside of the Midlands.

The Lunar Society of Birmingham are said to have truly ignited the industrial revolution though. They met at Soho House under the light of a full moon to make the journeys home easier, whence their name derived. The society was made up of enlightened industrialists, philosophers, intellectuals and as they called themselves; Lunatics.

This rise in industrial techniques and enlightened thinking created a hotbed of innovation and wealth in the West Midlands. Walsall became the saddle centre of the universe. Coventry the epicentre for bicycles, sewing machines and later cars. Stoke is world famous for its ceramics and the area is now known as the Potteries. Stourbridge was the heart of the glass manufacturing industry. Bromsgrove was world renowned for nails and Redditch was the greatest manufacturer of needles the world has ever seen, it is said that at one point they produced 90% of the world’s needles.

But manufacturing didn’t stop in the 1960’s. The old Jewellery district in Birmingham still has the largest concentration of jewellery manufacturers in Europe and makes 40% of Britain’s jewellery. But to add life to this historic district creative industries have joined the fold to make a vibrant area even more astonishing.

If there ever was a place that could rightly be called the workshop of the world, then that place is the West Midlands.

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