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Black Country, England

English Region

Last modified: 2020-09-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: west midlands | black country |
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[Black Country] image by Philip Tibbetts, 7 April 2009


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Introduction: an English Region

Sub-national divisions of England can be confusing with "traditional" counties dating back to the Norman Conquest, or more, "ancient" or "historic" counties, and "ceremonial" counties which were areas established as "lieutenancies" in areas of England (and Wales and Scotland) to which lords-lieutenants are appointed, under the Lieutenancies Act of 1997. The ceremonial counties are also known as "geographic" counties to distinguish them from other types of counties of England.
Some parts of England share characteristics that bind them as recognizable regions also, with sufficient coherence that the inhabitants see the need to develop regional flags that are also registered on the Flag Institute Registry. These regions exist outside the formal establishment of counties and municipalities. The Black Country is one such example, a traditional area that straddles the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.
Pete Loeser, 13 September 2020


Description: About the Black Country Flag Design Contest

About 4 years after I first emailed you about a flag for the Black Country I am very proud to say that the area now has a registered flag . This is a different flag from the one originally proposed. It has been registered after a public competition and vote.
Gracie Sheppard of Redhill School, Stourbridge won. A description of the design can be found on the Flag Institute Registry. (see Black_Country). Nearly 1500 votes were cast in total. The flag will be flown by the museum and will go on sale to the public.
The earlier proposal did sterling work raising the issue of a flag in the area and can retire with dignity now!
Philip Tibbetts, 17 July 2012

The unveiling of the Black Country flag was the culmination of the Black Country Living Museum's festival of steam which saw the 300th anniversary of the first ever operational steam engine, which was erected in the Black Country. Gracie won £200 and the runners up received £100 for their efforts.

Black Country flag Listing from the UK Flag Registry:
  • Flag Type - Regional Flag
  • Flag Date - 14th July 2012
  • Designer - Gracie Sheppard of Redhill School, Stourbridge
  • Adoption Route - Popular Vote
  • Aspect Ratio - 3:5
  • Pantone© Colours - Black, White, Red 186
  • Certification - Flag Institute Chief Vexillologist, Graham Bartram
  • Notes - The design was the winner of a competition run by the Black Country Living Museum. The flag features a chain to represent the manufacturing heritage of the area whilst the upright triangular shape in the background recalls the iconic glass cones and iron furnaces that featured in the architectural landscape of the area. The red and black colours recall the famous description of the Black Country by Elihu Burrit that it was "black by day and red by night" owing to the smoke and fires of industry.
Source: Flag Institute Registry
Jason Saber, 17 July 2012

Black Country Flag Proposals

Proposal Number #2 - 2019

[Black Country] image by Philip Tibbetts, 7 April 2009

I am championing the aim for the Black Country region of the British Midlands to get its own flag. Yesterday's Express & Star newspaper featured an article on my flag and the other symbols that I have designed:

By creating a standard, Philip Tibbetts hopes he will put the Black Country region on the official map. The unique flag has been designed to help the region achieve official recognition. The engineering project manager, who indulges in a spot of graphic design in his spare time, has also designed a coat of arms and tartan-style plaid pattern.
   Mr. Tibbetts's efforts will add weight to the campaign, which has been launched by Linda Waltho, the MP for Stourbridge. She recently tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for the Black Country to finally be recognised by the Ordnance Survey. The Black Country is said to have gained its name in the mid-19th century from the smoke from the many thousands of ironworking foundries and forges. Other theories mention the abundant coal in the region. The Black Country Chamber of Commerce describes the region as the four boroughs of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell.
   Mr. Tibbetts' black, red and yellow flag is divided by a diagonal cross taken from the ancient Mercian flag and features a chain to represent the heavy industry which used to dominate the area. The four arms of the cross represent the four boroughs of the Black Country and the flag's motto is 'Black by day and red by night'. Mr. Tibbetts, who grew up in Halesowen but is now based in Preston, said he hoped the designs would boost pride in the area.

The flag is made but currently used mainly at promotional events and not actually flown. I have recently been interviewed about the flag on BBC Radio and BBC Black Country (see Aleksandar Nemet posting below) now features an article on the flag and an article on its meaning. I've also got the support of local personality and historian Carl Chinn. Owing to my radio interview a local clothing company has got in touch with the idea of using the flag as part of their designs which I have fully agreed to.
Philip Tibbetts, 22 March 2008

Proposal Number #1 - 2018

[Black Country] earlier BBC Black Country image by Philip Tibbetts, 20 March 2008

The article posted in the BBC Black Country shows a different version of this flag, with the fly quarter red, and containing a sun and a star. In the center was a proposed coat of arms. The chain is also simplified.
Aleksandar Nemet, 9 October 2009


Proposed Black Country Coat of Arms

[Black Country] proposal by Philip Tibbetts, 22 March 2008

The coat of arms as featured at the centre of my earlier proposed flag (Proposal #1) as shown in the BBC Black Country article.
Philip Tibbetts, 22 March 2008

Excerpt from the BBC Black Country Article "The meaning of the flag" (24 September 2014) written by Philip Tibbetts.

"The shield is black with a defaced red gear toothed partition to represent industry and opposites working together. The black area has a sun and the later a star to indicate the quote 'Black by day and red by night'. The sun suggests a link to Halesowen (from the Grammar School) and the star to the Stourbridge glass making industry. A white chain runs around the outside to represent unity and continuation, its approximation to a white border hints at West Bromwich's coat of arms.
Around the shield is a red leather belt. Belts are usually a symbol of some knightly reward but here it shows the link to Walsall with it's leather industry. The belt is trimmed with yellow with the inscription 'Ommer, Ond & Yeart' which translates as Hammer, Hand & Heart. These symbols - themselves representing technology, strength and passion – are a motif reflected in the design a few times.
A burning Salamander, taken from the Dudley coat of arms and indicated metal working, is a supporter on the left hand side. A Phoenix stands on the right, itself symbolising rebirth and as a nod to the wider Midlands. Both are wrapped in flames that represent Wolverhampton in their Orange-Gold hue. They are stood on a coal heap, the symbolism of which is obvious. The Phoenix holds the Black Country Flag and the Salamander hold aloft a banner made of the Black Country Check which itself mirror closely the design of the Flag.
On top of the shield is a helmet, coloured metal blue for metal and also as the colour of light reflect from canal water. A crown of local blue bricks with Gold-Orange nuts and baubles sits atop the helmet in the style of a Saxon crown. This style crown is chosen to commemorate the Saxon heritage and the famous victory over the Danes at the Battle of Tettenhall in 910AD and as a symbol of Oldbury. The quilting rises up from the crown on either side like smoke and steam rises.
From the crown rises the arm of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with its heart worn on its sleeve and clutching a hammer. The design of this crest indicates a respectful acknowledgement of Birmingham, which also has an arm holding a hammer. It also symbolises partnership with Birmingham as this arm is a dogs and the Birmingham crest uses a Human. However as the two hammers face each other it shows a tongue-in-cheek nod to the rivalry that the areas have, but when combined with the aspect of partnership indicates that such a rivalry is only meant to be friendly. The crest id the strongest showing of the hammer, hand and heart motif.

The motto, held on by nails below the shield is 'Mettle and Fire', playing on words between the materials and the personality traits.
Technically the coat of arms is only really a heraldic style emblem without the acceptance by the Royal College of Arms in London."
Philip Tibbetts, 24 September 2014
 
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