Happy Black Country Day!

Black Country Flag
Black Country Flag

July 14th 2015 is Black Country Day.   The Titanium Bunker is situated within the Black Country, and the area is proud of its industrial heritage.  The area also has it’s own flag designed by 12 year old schoolgirl Gracie Sheppard.

The flag was designed back in 2012, and has been popular in the area, in the form of bumper stickers, T shirts etc.  So I was somewhat surprised to see this headline in the Express and Star :

 

Black Country flag ‘offensive and insensitive’ says leading racism campaigner

So Patrick Vernon has argued that the chains made in the area were used to manacle slaves, and as a result this flag is offensive and insensitive.  In the Express and Star article he says  :

The chain is not a swastika or a Confederate flag but it is offensive. While I am in support of the festival and think it is a great idea, the Black Country has never done anything to acknowledge that slavery was key to its economic rise. This is not political correctness, it is the truth. You can’t pick and choose bits of your history, they are interlinked

So from those comments I concluded that his main area of criticism was with the chain motif.  I was genuinely intrigued by this so I have tweeted Patrick with the following :

It’s interesting that Patrick uses the hashtag #confederateFlag when he says in the Express and Star article :

“The chain is not a swastika or a Confederate flag but it is offensive.”

This does worry me somewhat – and smacks of an attempt to raise the profile of his tweet by pinning it to the recent and very real tragedy that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina.

I was also interested to see this comment on The Voice Online :

Steve Turner · Managing Director at Turbo Business Services Ltd
Can we get some facts here, chains were not made in the Black Country until after slavery had been ended in the UK. Chains were made after the nail making business by hand was drying up in the mid 19th century. Slavery was abolished in 1833, it was at this time that chainmaking commenced. The chains made were for ships. The white in the flag represents the glass cones and the red and black is the red of night from the furnaces and the black is the smoke of the day. I am personally offended by Mr Vernons comments and feel discriminated by him.

 

As a good historian I currently have 2 sources – I have Patrick saying that the chains were used to manacle slaves bought in from Africa, and I have a Comments from Steve Turner, that the chains were made after the nail making industry started to dry up in the Black Country – It will be interesting to add more to this.

I have reached out to both Steve and Patrick to try and see if they have any sources that can help shed some light on this?

 

Mike is the programmer in the bunker. He writes software for a shaddowy software house in Worcester. He works mainly in .NET and python, but equally has found himself having to support different technologies such as MAXScript and .NET integration. Spending most of his time working on his passion of content packaging, and is currently working on an ebook authoring system for Ubuntu. Although he is the main programmer on the site he doesn’t do much with regard to writitng games