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The fall and rise of the manufacturing industry in the Black Country.

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Introduction

The fall and rise of the manufacturing industry in the Black Country The Black Country is a region in the West Midlands conurbation, running along the South Staffordshire Coalfield. The region defined as the Black Country covers Walsall, Bilston, West Bromwich, Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen (as shown in figure 1 below), and consists of four districts, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley, as shown in figure 2. Figure 1 Figure 2 Prior to the industrial revolution cottage industries covered the region, all small scale. The West Midlands was the home of the industrial revolution in the late 18th century. In the village of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, about 40km west of the South Wales coalfield, Abraham Darby developed the process of using coke (purified coal) as a fuel to smelt iron. This enabled the production of iron in much larger quantities than previously. The discovery, at much the same time, of steam engines using coal as a source of power could be used o power tools to shape metal efficiently. ...read more.

Middle

The main specialities in the area were iron and steel and metalworking with engineering covering 2/3 of all manufacturing jobs in the region, and by 1850 the region was the UK's leading iron-making centre. With iron being such an important commodity in the car industry, the car industry was soon a major manufacturing employer in the region. With the rapid growth of the vehicle industry after the Second World War, Birmingham and Coventry with their long traditions of making products from metal became ideal locations for the factories making the components for the cars, along with the assembly plants completing the finished vehicles. In the 1970s, the motor vehicle industry was the second largest industry in the country and vehicles were an important export. However, by the early 1980s, the manufacturing industry, and especially the motor vehicle industries, went into severe decline in Britain as a whole, and the Black Country itself. This decline was due to several reasons. One was the fall in demand for vehicles due to sharp increases in petrol in the 1970s. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the 1970s/1980s the decline was extremely great, with over 300000 jobs lost between 1979 and 1990. Thus great changes were desperately needed to the Black Country's economy. Through government aid and guidance, along with that of the EU and the Black Country Development Corporation, new employment was created. These new jobs were on the whole in the service sector, however, there were some in new manufacturing positions. Even with the changes that were placed upon the area, unemployment fell in the early 1980s. In general through, more jobs were lost than there were created. The new jobs in the service sector provided employment for the new generation, and particularly for women which left great changes within the households of the Black Country. However, the male population of the Black Country were still holding three times more positions in the regions employment than the females in 1990. Overall the Black Country has seen many changes in its economic structure, all due to the economic environment of the UK and the world. But the regions still provides one the major manufacturing centres for the UK. ...read more.

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