During the Industrial Revolution this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation. Today however, the heavy industry, which once dominated the Black Country has now largely gone, but the strong working class character of the area lives on.
Images of the Black Country, interlaced with poetry by Simon Hayward work beautifully together to explain how the once industrial and prosperous area is now decaying and redundant, but its residents are still proud of the area and its identity as a hardworking and honest community.
What song shall burst from your burgeoning lips tonight?
Will your bridges chime
A concrete beckoning?
Will your rusty chains rattle out
All of the impossible syncopations?
Will your steel girders loom
And clunk out a clarity unforeseen?”
Collins’s honest and straightforward style shows us the true nature of the Black Country folk. When taking photographs for the project, he asked passersby what the Midlands meant to them – their response became the inspiration behind the title of the book and beautifully sums up a wonderful place captured by Chris Collins and Simon Hayward.
“To me, my car is a Rolls Royce. Other people may call it something else but to me, it’s a Rolls Royce. To me this is the centre of the earth…”