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FEATURES ON LOCAL HISTORY

When communities are as old as the ones in the West Midlands, they build up a tapestry of folklore, traditions, and plain old local history. This section is not intended to produce any kind of integrated history of the area (sorry!). However, as the topic-bank builds up, we hope you'll find items of interest. Click the underlined topic to learn more.
 
People
Louise J. Rayner, artist - Louise Rayner wasn't local (she was from Derbyshire), stayed only briefly in Dudley with her brother Richard (see the Dudley Lime Workings section below) in 1865, but left her mark nevertheless. Miss Rayner travelled the country painting street and church scenes, and the well-known painting of Dudley Market Place in 1870 (from her 1865 notes) is hers. Take a look at this section: we only had one page to begin with, and that attracted enough interest for us to increase it to five pages, and that attracted enough interest... well this section is now by far the biggest site on the web for the Rayner family of artists - all eight of them, with contributed pictures by site visitors from around the world. Other local paintings include three of Ludlow, and don't even think of missing the Chester section! Chester isn't local, strictly speaking, but the Grosvenor Museum there was very supportive of our pages, and doesn't it show!
 
Places
Dudley from Old Postcards - David Clare has been actively building a collection of old postcards for some years, and he kindly gave us access to his Dudley cards. We're still building our Old Dudley section, with much of the town centre still to do, but we thought you'd like a preview. Step this way for the entrance to Dudley and two pages on Dudley Castle.
 
Kidsgrove Procession - Kidsgrove is somewhat beyond our original view of our West Midlands envelope, but everybody likes a good old picture, so enjoy this one, described by Philip Leese. Philip has also produced a couple of local history videos about the Kidsgrove area of Staffordshire, "Kidsgrove and its Canals" and "Talke and Talke Pits". For details of those, take a look at www.mpiddock.ukpoets.net
 
Listed Buildings - if you're interested in listed buildings, Images of England will serve you well. Start your search by identifying region (e.g. West Midlands, then town, then building type (or just accept "any type"). You get modern thumbnail images of the buildings in your selected areas, but these will expand to comforatble size with location details.
 
If you're really into local history, of course, don't forget that local authorities have been preserving our history for decades and often have fine collections of books and photographs, so check out our Local Archives page for their addresses.
 
Industries
The River Severn - the Severn wasn't merely a piece of scenery; it was once one of our major inland trading routes.
 
Dudley Lime Workings - Richard Rayner came to Dudley with his sister Louise (see above) in 1865, but his interest was the castle and the lime works in the area now occupied by the Black Country Museum. These are some of the sketches he made when that area was very different from the way it is now.
 
The Ironbridge Gorge - This area around Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge and Coalport seems a pretty unassuming backwater these days, but it produced the foundation of the Industrial Revolution that would eventually sweep the world and make Great Britain the world's great power for a century. The key was the first good quality cast iron manufactured in quantity, and that delicate-looking bridge that gives Ironbridge its name was the proof of the new technique. This is a World Heritage Centre, so the area is packed with museums devoted to the industry that grew up here. There are other web sites, too - one example being www.ironbridgegorge.net.
 
The Round Oak Ironworks - the Ironworks was just one of the Earl Of Dudley's many enterprises, and this photo of the works was used in a published guide of the Dudley area in 1868.
 
Agenoria and the Stourbridge Lion - Stourbridge may not have featured strongly in the later railway age, but two locomotives built there were important contributions to its early period.
 
Events
The Lesley Whittle Murder, Bath Pool, January 1974 - the tragic story of how one man's greed and lack of scruple hit the national news headlines - and cost a young girl her life.
 
The Bewdley Floods, October-November 2000 - the Severn isn't just scenery even today. When large areas of flooding occurred across Britain in Autumn 2000, the Severn hit many towns along its length. One of them was Bewdley.
 
Other Links
If you have an interest in industrial archaeology, you are recommended to try the links page on the Industrial Archaeology Recordings web site for further resources.
 
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