wildlife

Flags of the Black Country

Black Country Flag

Most of the towns of the Black Country¹ don’t have flags.  I thought it might be an interesting challenge to create flags for some² of the towns based (where possible) on the historic town coats-of-arms.

Below are the results, alongside the four flags that already exist (Bloxwich, Finchfield, Kingswinford, Willenhall).

¹Here I’ve defined the ‘Black Country’ as the areas covered by the councils of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. I know, I know….

²There are plenty of places missing here. This was mainly because I couldn’t find a relevant coat-of-arms to base a flag on.


ALDRIDGE

Aldridge Flag

Aldridge is an ancient parish in the county of Staffordshire.  The parish contained two townships – Aldridge and Great Barr.  Aldridge became an urban district in Staffordshire in 1894.  This merged with Brownhills in 1966 to form Aldridge-Brownhills, and then became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall in 1974.

The Aldridge flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Aldridge-Brownhills Urban District Council which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Aldridge-Brownhills

The image in the centre shield is a “Beacon Sable enflamed proper”.  The beacon was used as a device by the former Aldridge UDC and may represent the nearby Barr Beacon. 

The colours are also taken from the coat-of-arms, and the green represents the extensive green belt while the yellow represents “the wealth, growth and vigour” of the district.


BEARWOOD

Bearwood Flag

Bearwood is a distinct area within Smethwick, which was once part of the ancient parish of Harborne in Staffordshire. Over the years, additional areas have been added to Bearwood which were previously in the historic counties of Worcestershire, Shropshire and Warwickshire.

The bear and trees image on the flag is taken from a plaque on the side of the TC Hayes building on Sandon Road, which historically marked the boundary between Bearwood and Birmingham. You can see a photo of the plaque here.

As well as being an obvious reference to the name of the area, the bear on the flag can also be taken as a reference to the bear symbol which represents Warwickshire.

The tree symbols represent the various references to woods and trees in Bearwood such as Warley Woods, Lightwoods and the Three Shires Oak (which once stood at the boundary between the counties of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire). The design of the symbols is inspired by the design of the Erminois and diagonal sections shown on the Shropshire Flag.

The pear with a knotted rope represents the pear of Worcestershire’s Flag and the Stafford Knot of Staffordshire’s Flag.


BILSTON

Bilston Flag

Bilston was a township in the ancient parish of Wolverhampton in Staffordshire. Bilston was incorporated into Wolverhampton in 1966.

The Bilston flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Bilston Urban District Council which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Bilston This in turn is based on the arms borne by Sir Walter de Bilston, a local landholder.

The central image is a Stafford Knot, which is flanked by two Martlets – a mythical bird without feet which never roosts from the moment of its drop-birth until its death-fall. It is a compelling allegory for continuous effort.


BLOXWICH

Bloxwich Flag

Bloxwich was a township within the ancient parish of Walsall in Staffordshire.

The Bloxwich flag was designed by Julie Hikins and was officially adopted in 2017 following a popular vote. https://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/flags/bloxwich-flag/

The cross in black and green, symbolises the town’s industry and green spaces. The lion represents the Bloxwich Lion which once escaped to go wandering round the town.  The tree with crossed central branches symbolises the story of the local wishing tree.


BRIERLEY HILL

Brierley Hill Flag

Brierley Hill was originally part of the ancient parish of Kingswinford in Staffordshire. In 1966 it was incorporated into Dudley.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of Brierley Hill Urban District Council which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Brierley_Hill

The briar rose in the centre of the flag plays on the name of the area.  The colours are taken from the town coat-of-arms.


BROWNHILLS

Brownhills Flag

Brownhills was historically part of the ancient parish of Norton Canes in Staffordshire. Brownhills merged with Aldridge in 1966 to form Aldridge-Brownhills, and then became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall in 1974.

The flag is based partly on the coat-of-arms of the former Aldridge-Brownhills Urban District Council which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Aldridge-Brownhills

It takes the element of the ‘brown hills’ from there.  The pickaxe is to represent the area’s connection with mining, as well as the statue of Jigger, the Brownhills Miner.


COSELEY

Coseley Flag

Coseley was part of the ancient parish of Sedgley in Staffordshire.

In 1894 the parish of Sedgley was split in two and Coseley became part of the Coseley Urban District which also included the villages of Bradley and Ettingshall.

Coseley was incorporated into Dudley in 1966.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Coseley UDC which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Coseley

The chequers are from the arms of the Ward family, who held the Manor, and the red chevron and Stafford Knot are from the arms of the Staffordshire CC.


CRADLEY HEATH

Cradley Heath Flag

Cradley Heath was part of the ancient parish of Rowley Regis in Staffordshire. Rowley Regis became an Urban District Council in 1894 and Municipal Borough in 1933. In 1966 it became part of the new Worcestershire county borough of Warley, which itself became part of the metropolitan borough of Sandwell in 1974.

There isn’t a separate crest for Cradley Heath so this flag instead represents the industry of the area, which included chain making and nail making. The arm with the hammer is a reference to the crest of the Cradley Heathens speedway team.

DARLASTON

Darlaston Flag

Darlaston was an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  In 1894 Darlaston Urban District was formed, which also included the villages of Bentley and Moxley.  In 1966 Darlaston became part of Walsall County Borough.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Darlaston UDC, which you can see here: http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/articles/Darlaston/War.htm

The image is a Staffrd Knot.  I couldnt find a coloured version of the coat-of-arms, so the colours are taken from the badge of Darlaston Town FC.


DUDLEY

Dudley Flag

Dudley was an ancient parish in Worcestershire.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Dudley County Borough which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Dudley

The image is a representation of the Keep of Dudley Castle and the Dudley Bug (Calymene blumenbachii) – a 428 million year old trilobite discovered in the limestone quarries of the Wren’s Nest by 18th-century quarrymen.


FINCHFIELD

Finchfield Flag

Finchfield was historically in the ancient parish of Tettenhall in Staffordshire. In 1966 it was incorporated into Wolverhampton.

The Finchfield flag was designed by Children of Finchfield & Philip Tibbetts and was officially adopted in 2010.   https://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/flags/finchfield-flag/

The goldfinches represent the birds that give the town its name. The yellow colour represents the traditional farmers fields of old and the green represents the modern parks and environment centre, as well as the colours of the local schools.


HALESOWEN

Halesowen Flag

Halesowen was originally a large ancient parish in Worcestershire (additionally some parts of the parish were in Shropshire until 1844).  Halesowen was incorporated in Dudley in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Halesowen UDC, which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Halesowen

The shield is composed of emblems representing the principal owners of the Manor of Hales. The red half of the lion represents Earl Roger of Montgomery and the green half, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.


KINGSWINFORD

Kingswinford Flag

Kingswinford was a large ancient parish in Staffordshire.  It became part of the Brierley Hill Urban District in 1894 along with Brierley Hill, Quarry Bank, and Pensnett.  In 1966 it was incorporated into Dudley Borough.

The Kingswinford flag was designed by Phoebe Cresswell and Maisie Cumming and was officially adopted by popular vote  in 2011. https://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/flags/kingswinford-flag/


OLDBURY

Oldbury Flag

Oldbury was a township in the ancient parish of Halesowen in Worcestershire. In 1894 it became an Urban District Council, and then a Municipal Borough in 1935.  In 1966 it became part of the new Worcestershire county borough of Warley, which itself became part of the metropolitan borough of Sandwell in 1974

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Oldbury UDC, which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Oldbury

The crosses refer to the Saxons.


PELSALL

Pelsall Flag

Pelsall was a township in the ancient parish of Wolverhampton in Staffordshire.

I couldn’t find a town coat-of-arms for Pelsall so this flag was created to reflect local landmarks – the white bridge represents Pelsall Works Canal Bridge, while the pointing hand represents the fingerpost.  The colour green represents the commons, the blue represents the canal and the black represents the coal seam and areas historic coal-mining industry.


ROWLEY REGIS

Rowley Regis Flag

Rowley Regis was an ancient parish in Staffordshire. It became an Urban District Council in 1894 and Municipal Borough in 1933. In 1966 it became part of the new Worcestershire county borough of Warley, which itself became part of the metropolitan borough of Sandwell in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Rowley Regis council which you can see here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Rowley_Regis

The lions’ faces indicate that Rowley Regis was formerly part of the royal domain. The leg is from the heraldry of the Haden family.


RUSHALL

Rushall Flag

Rushall was an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  From 1894 it was a parish in the Walsall Rural District. In 1934 most of the rural district became Aldridge Urban District, taking its name from the largest of the parishes within the district.  In 1966 Aldridge Urban District joined with the neighbouring Brownhills Urban District to become Aldridge-Brownhills Urban District. In 1974 this became part of Walsall Metropolitan Borough.

The rampant lion image on the flag is from the coat-of-arms of John Harpur, while the orange colour is from Rushall Olympic FC.


SEDGLEY

Sedgley Flag

Sedgley was an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  The parish was split in two in 1894 and the eastern section became Sedgley Urban District, which included the historic villages of Sedgley, Cotwall End, Gospel End, Upper Gornal, Lower Gornal and Woodsetton.  In 1966 the bulk of the district was absorbed into the County Borough of Dudley.

The flag is based on the badge of the former Sedgley Urban District Council https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb-e-sdg.html

The image shows the tower at Sedgley beacon.


SMETHWICK

Smethwick Flag

Smethwick was originally a township within the ancient parish of Harborne in Staffordshire.

It became an urban district in 1894, a borough in 1899, and a county borough in 1907. The Warley Woods portion of Oldbury, which was added to Smethwick in 1928. In 1966 it became part of the new county borough of Warley, which itself became part of the metropolitan borough of Sandwell in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Smethwick Urban District Council, which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Smethwick

The image shows the The caduceus of Mercury/Staff of Hermes – it is a short staff entwined by two serpents and surmounted by wings.  This is to represent commerce.  The club is from the arms of industrialist James Watt.

The colours are taken from an alternative version of the coat-of-arms.


STOURBRIDGE

Stourbridge Flag

Stourbridge was a township in the ancient parish of Old Swinford in Worcestershire.

In 1972 Stourbridge was amalgamated into the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Stourbridge UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Stourbridge

The pears represent Worcestershire – pears are a symbol reported to have been used by Worcestershire units at the Battle of Agincourt – while the bridge represents the origins of the town name.


TETTENHALL

Tettenhall Flag

Tettenhall was a large ancient parish in Staffordshire.  It became Tettenhall Urban District in 1894 and then in 1966 it was incorporated into Wolverhampton Borough.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Tettenhall UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Tettenhall

The trees refer to the three royal forests of Kinver, Brewood and Cannock, which met at Tettenhall.


TIPTON

Tipton Flag

Tipton was a historic parish in Staffordshire.  It became an Urban District in 1894, a Municipal Borough in 1938 before becoming part of West Bromwich County Borough in 1966 and then Sandwell in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Tipton UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Tipton

The gold castle symbolizes the municipality and can also be interpreted as an allusion to nearby Dudley Castle. The three gold wheels symbolise industry.


WALSALL

Walsall Flag

Walsall is an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  

The flag is based on the unofficial coat-of-arms of Walsall Council which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Walsall

The colours are taken from the Royal Arms.  The bear and staff symbol is associated with the Earls of Warwick, who were  previously lords of the manor.  The Stafford Knot is to symbolise Staffordshire.


WALSALL WOOD

Walsall Wood Flag

Walsall Wood used to be a township in the Walsall Foreign – a detached part of the ancient parish of Walsall in Staffordshire.

The flag is based on the Walsall Flag (above) but with different colours and images taken from the crest of Walsall Wood FC. The winding gear of a coal mine symbolises the area’s coalmining tradition, while the oak trees represent both the name of the place and also the Shire Oak


WEDNESBURY

Wednesbury Flag

Wednesbury was an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  It became a part of West Bromwich County Borough in 1966 and then Sandwell in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Wednesbury UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Wednesbury

The black diamonds represent coal mining and the symbol of Mars, used by alchemists to denote iron, represents the iron and steel industries. Mars is also the Roman counterpart of Woden, after whom Wednesbury is named.


WEDNESFIELD

Wednesfield Flag

Wednesfield was a township in the large ancient parish of Wolverhampton in Staffordshire.  In 1966 it was incorporated into Wolverhampton.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former Wednesfield UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Wednesfield

The red colour is thought to represent the bloody nature of the battlefield after the victory of the Saxons, led by Edward the Elder, over the Danes in 910 AD.

The golden double-warded key symbolise the lock-making industry.


WEST BROMWICH

West Bromwich Flag

West Bromwich is an ancient parish in Staffordshire.  It became a County Borough in 1966 and then was incorporated into Sandwell in 1974.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of the former West Bromwich UDC which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/West_Bromwich

The stag emblem is derived from the heraldry of the Earls of Dartmouth, who were formerly seated at Sandwell Hall.


WILLENHALL

Willenhall Flag

Willenhall was a township in the large ancient parish of Wolverhampton in Staffordshire.  In 1966 it was incorporated into Wolverhampton.

The Willenhall flag was designed by Adam Leonard and was officially adopted by popular vote  in 2014. https://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/flags/willenhall-flag/

The flag features several references to the town’s traditional industry of lock and key-making.  The colours of blue, red and gold were drawn from the arms of the former Willenhall Urban District Council.


WOLVERHAMPTON

Wolverhampton Flag

Wolverhampton was a large ancient parish in Staffordshire.

The flag is based on the coat-of-arms of Wolverhampton City Council which can be seen here: https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton was founded in 985 AD by St. Wulfrun, sister of King Edgar, and she is represented by the cross.

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