Futuregazing … from 1969

It’s easy to see that the landscape of the Black Country has changed, but less easy to see exactly how.  One person who could display some clarity on this subject was John Fletcher.  Here he is in the late 1960s talking about the sequence of changes the area has experienced (see clip below).  Don’t be distracted by appearances—underneath the thick glasses, beard and duffle coat is someone making a heartfelt call for progress, which John identifies as being vital to the Black Country.
John neatly describes the different phases of the region’s history, but what of the future? The existence of industry is mentioned as being essential to the Black Country—but from the 1960s who could have foreseen the toll which the following decades would take on the industrial standing of the region?  And the clip raises an interesting question about the area’s ‘inward-looking’ nature which is described as ‘its essential characteristic’.  Do we still think of the area in this way in 2011?  We’d be interested in your own views.

Dr John Fletcher led the group of people who founded the Black Country Society in 1967, two years before this film.  The clip is reproduced here with permission of ITV who hold the copyright. It is part of a fascinating ATV documentary called ‘The Black Country 1969’ available on DVD from a number of places, including Media Archive of Central England, The Public in West Bromwich, and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

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