Journalist Samuel Sidney, writing in 1851, pens a vivid picture of the Black Country of Staffordshire "including West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Dudley, and Darlaston, Bilston, Wolverhampton, and several minor villages," in his book Rides on Railways.
- "The pleasant green of pastures is almost unknown, the streams, in which no fishes swim, are black and unwholesome; the natural dead flat is often broken by huge hills of cinders and spoil from the mines; the few trees are stunted and blasted; no birds are to be seen, except a few smoky sparrows; and for miles on miles a black waste spreads around, where furnaces continually smoke, steam-engines thud and hiss, and long chains clank, while blind gin-horses walk their doleful round."
- "He will find that the amiable enthusiasts who meet every May at Exeter Hall to consider on the best means of converting certain aboriginal tribes in Africa, India, and the Islands of the Pacific, need not go so far to find human beings more barbarous and yet much more easily reclaimed."
Listen to the free audio version of this book at the website LibriVox (see The Black Country by Sidney).
- Samuel Sidney, Rides on Railways. 1851. Digital version at Project Gutenburg.