Local Usage of OpenStreetMap: blackcountryhistory.org

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It’s always good to see the hard work you’ve put in surveying and editing being put to good use. I came across www.blackcountryhistory.org recently whilst researching listed buildings in Wolverhampton. As you can see it uses OpenStreetMap as the default map base layer – correctly attributed as well! The website is a collaboration of the museum and archive departments of all the councils in the Black Country – that’s Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell. It’s aim is broadly to provide a digital gateway into their vast reserves of historical material.

The website introduces the Black Country as:  “an area located just to the west of Birmingham right at the heart of the UK. It lies between the towns of Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton and is noted for its industrial past. It is so named because of the concentration of coal mining and metalworking in the area. It has no agreed borders and no two Black Country men or women will agree on where its starts or ends. American visitor, Elihu Burritt was impressed with what he saw and said in 1869 ‘ The Black County, black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production by any other space of equal radius on the surface of the globe.’ ”

It’s no longer like that of course. It now provides a rich source of  industrial heritage and searching out particular sites or buildings associated with past industrial powerhouses provides a great incentive to getting out and surveying. It’s just very sad  that the major preservation body in the UK, the National Trust, ignores all this and concentrates on preserving the country houses of the aristocracy and nineteenth century factory owners, i.e where the wealth got spent by the few rather than where it got created by the many.


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