black country

Yow Dow Know Abaart We | Knowledge and Misconceptions of The Black Country

black country

Aado! ‘Ow bist? ‘Ope yow’m awright. Bostin’, I ‘ope. 

Hello! How are you? Hope you’re alright. Great, I hope.

In April, I mentioned in a post about my home dialect and some words that are my favourites that we use. These unusual words from our dialect seemed to attract a fair bit of attention. My fiancé gave me the idea to do this post, giving you more of an insight to our dialect and the history from this area.


The Black Country

A Brief History

Photo Copyright of Terry Dean Free Stock Photos at picturesofengland.com

I am from an area in the West Midlands of England widely known as The Black Country. In the Victoria era, the Black Country was a heavy industrial area filled with coal mines, foundries, steel mills and such. It is widely known that Queen Victoria named it the Black Country as she passed through in her royal carriage. It is said that she closed the curtains and said she didn’t want to look upon the blackest part of the country as it was so dirty due to the air being filled with soot and smoke from the heavy industry.

Dialect

Here in the Black Country, we have our own dialect and accent. There are specific ways of saying things but it is difficult to explain how it is said. In fact, our accent is rated the worst in Britain! I’m not ashamed of it, it’s who I am. I tried putting on a persona to make a good impression on people and let me tell you, it’s something I regret. I’m proud to be from the Black Country.

The first translation I will start with is the title.
Yow Dow Know Abaart We: This means “You don’t know about us”.

I’ll make a list of some more words and phrases. I can’t write all… There’s just so much to write.

Bostin’: This means something that is good, great or brilliant…example bostin’ fittle (Fittle means food)
Fittle: This means food. See example from “Bostin'”
Wazzin: This means throat…example when giving someone food you say “Get that down ya wazzin”
All round the Wrekin: This means taking the longer route, whether it be by speech or travelling.
Babby: This means baby. It is like saying Bobby but with an A instead of an O.
Loff: This means laugh.
Shift ya ‘ocks: This means move your feet.
Put the wood in the ‘ole: This means shut the door.
Cut: This means the canal
Wench: This means girl.
Bibble: This means pebble.
Wammel / Anythinhairyun: Both of these mean mongrel.
Um: This means home.
Crack / Back ‘onda / Lampin’ / A good hidin’: These all refer to a smack or hitting someone.
Oss: This means horse.
Keep out the oss road: This means stay on the pavement.
Wigwam for a wowzer: This is a way of saying that it’s none of your business.
Knocker uppers: These were men who used to light the oil street lamps. They would knock the door or windows to wake you up in a morning.
Bally: This means stomach, said like belly but with an A instead of and E.
Fillbally: This means bread pudding, a Black Country dessert.
Blabber bally: This means someone is a crybaby, wuss or wimp.
Pon: This means pan.
Yed: This means head.
Lummock: This means someone who is a fool.
Sound like a gleed under a do-a: This means something or someone sounds terrible. A gleed is a glowing coal.
I dare-na do it: This means I dare not do it.
Tunky pig: This means a fat pig.
Bonk: This means bank, such as a hill.
‘Ommer: This means hammer.
Suck: This means sweets.
I cud ate a scabby oss: This means I’m really hungry I could eat anything.
Riffy: This means you’re dirty

Misconceptions of the Black Country

People from the Black Country often get judged based on our accent and dialect. People think that because we talk the way that we do, we are stupid. Yes, the accent may sound strange to some but that doesn’t mean we are stupid. As I mentioned above, our accent is rated the worst in Britain. It’s not only the words that make our accent and dialect hard to understand, it’s the fact that we also talk quite fast. So fast in fact that people from around the UK can’t understand some of the things that we say. We’re often asked, when on holiday, if we could slow down talking so people can get a better understanding.

People from the area also tend to get judged just by what is shown on TV sometimes. If you were to judge every Black Country resident by some of what you see, you would think that everyone he are drug abusing scruffs.

Another misconception that people get of the Black Country is what towns are actually part of it. People from Birmingham are now claiming to be a part of the Black Country, but that isn’t the case. The Black Country is made up of the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Foods

Image from http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/greypeasandbacon.htm
Image from http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/greypeasandbacon.htm

I published a recipe post, also in April, for a very traditional Black Country dish, Grey Peas and Bacon. In our Black Country dialect, we call them gray pays. Other names for these peas are pigeon peas, Carlin peas or maple peas.

Other notable Black Country foods are:

  • Black Pudding
  • Faggots and peas
  • Scratchings – oh, what a Black Country delicacy! One of my favourites!!
  • Bread Pudding

Notable History from The Black Country

At a factory in Netherton, an area of the Black Country, 3 anchors and chain sets were manufactured for the RMS Titanic. The whole set weighed around 100 tons and one12 ton anchor alone was transported from Netherton to the Dudley railway station pulled by 20 shire horses.

Charles Dickens wrote about the Black Country in his novel The Old Curiosity Shop and stated how the air was dark in the heavy industrialized area.

J.R.R Tolkien spent most of his life living in the Black Country and based characters and places in The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy on people and places in the area. Mordor was based around the Black Country, with its meaning in Elvish being black land.

The Newcomen Engine was the first successful steam engine in the world to be built. It was built by Thomas Newcomen in the Black Country in 1712.

If I told you that the first steam train to run in the USA was built in the Black Country, would you believe me? Well, it’s true. The Stourbridge Lion was built in 1828 and was the first steam train to run outside of Britain and the first to run in the USA.

Black Country Living Museum

One of the Black Countries most famous attractions is the Black Country Living Museum. It is an open-air museum, which is like a Victorian Black Country village reproduced. The buildings were actually relocated from their original sites and rebuilt using all original structures and bricks. The museum employees actually dress from the era and you can learn about what life was like in that time.

Me when I was roughly 10 years old, trying out Victorian stilts

You can take part in many daily activities such as the following:

  • Riding the old style tram
  • Enjoying traditional street games
  • Have lessons in the school
  • Adventure into the mines
  • Watch short silent films in the cinema
  • Visit the chip shop and eat fish and chips cooked the traditional way
  • Enjoy traditional ale at the pub, Bottle & Glass Inn
  • Traditional bakery demonstrations
  • Traditional metal working skill demonstrations
  • Once a month, you can see old style vehicles driven around the museum
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Colliery Winding Engine demonstrations

You can visit the website for the Black Country Living Museum HERE

Image from http://birminghamtoolkit.com

Dudley Zoo and Castle

Photo Copyright of Jason T Free Stock Photos at picturesofengland.com

Dudley Zoo is situated in the grounds of Dudley Castle, which opened in 1937 and has been home to many animals, including a variety of endangered species, ever since.

Dudley Zoo and Castle provides an excellent day out with a lot of educational opportunities.

Built in the 11th Century, the castle courtyard is an amazing place for a picnic, which is where my family used to picnic on our visits when I was a child.

In 1971 until 1974, Dudley Zoo was home to an orca called Cuddles. Cuddles lived at the zoo until his death in 1974. The habitat in which Cuddles lived were modified sea lion pools. The pools now house sea lions again.

A chairlift is also featured at Dudley Zoo, which was opened in 1958. For health and safety reasons, the chairlift was shut down in 2000. However, after a 12 week restoration in 2012, the chairlift was reopened for visitors.

Me , aged 6, with a snake at Dudley Zoo

A lot of events and experiences are on offer at Dudley Zoo, including:

  • Daily activities and animal feedings
  • Birthday parties and wedding receptions at the Zoo
  • Arachnophobia Workshop
  • Be a Zoo Keeper Experience
  • Animal Adoptions
  • Close Encounters
  • Haunted Happenings Ghost Hunt & Suppers
  • Eerie Evenings Ghost Event
  • Ghost Walks
  • Propose to your loved one at DZG
  • Dusk till Dawn Overnight Ghost Hunts
  • Barnardo’s Big Toddle
  • DZG Paranormal Evening
  • Discovery Days
  • Summer School
  • Twilight Trail
  • Under 5s Days
  • WAKE UP THE ZOO AT DZG…

You can visit the zoo website, click HERE

Famous People from The Black Country

Below is a list of some of the famous people that come from the Black Country and surrounding areas:
Noddy Holder – Singer and Slade frontman was born in Walsall. Slade hail from the Wolverhampton/Walsall areas
Ozzy Osbourne – The Black Sabbath frontman was born in Birmingham
Lenny Henry – Comedian, born in Dudley
Robert Plant – Led Zeppelin frontman was born in West Bromwich
Beverly Knight – The singer was born in Wolverhampton
Julie Walters – Actress was born in Smethwick
Jas Mann – Lead singer of Babylon Zoo was born in Dudley. Babylon Zoo were formed in Wolverhampton
Goldie – The DJ was born in Dudley
Jasper Carrott – The comedian was born in Birmingham
Liam Payne – One Direction member was born in Wolverhampton
Bill Oddie – The Former of The Goodies and TV birdwatcher lived in the area and attended schools in Halesowen
Meera Syal – The comedian and actress was born in Wolverhampton
Frank Skinner – The comedian was born in West Bromwich
Denise Lewis – The British athlete was in West Bromwich
Suzi Perry – The TV presenter was born in Cosford, Staffordshire which isn’t too far away and she grew up in Wolverhampton
Enoch Powell – The politician was born in Birmingham and was an MP for Wolverhampton
Nigel Mansell – The racing driver was born in Solihull

Black Country Day

Black Country Flag
Black Country Flag

In 2012, the idea of a flag of the Black Country was brought up. To coincide with this, Black Country Day is now celebrated across the region. It was originally intended to take place in March but was moved to July 14th. Black Country Day is celebrated on this date as it is the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen Engine, the world’s first steam engine that was built in the Black Country in 1712.

During July for the Black Country Festival, a variety of events are held across the region such as carnivals, fun runs, markets, fun days, open mic comedy nights, local football matches and Black Country quiz nights.

You can find more information about events in the Black Country Festival at the following website:
Click HERE

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Black Country. So, what do you think? Did you enjoy reading? What did you enjoy? If you’re interested in learning more about the Black Country or our dialect, get in touch. I’m more than happy to give people and insight to where I live.

‘Ave a bostin’ day!!

Best Wishes
Nikki

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