Dr Michael Hall with his new book about nail-making

Halesowen News: PENTAX Image (3804986) PENTAX Image (3804986)

A RENOWNED Halesowen historian has released a book detailing the Black Country nail making industry.

Dr Michael Hall, president of the Black Country Society and the Francis Brett Young Society, has penned In Cramped and Sooty Caverns.

The book details the story of hand made nail-making from its earliest recorded origins to the demise of the industry around 1930.

Dr Hall said: "Metal-bashing, of one form or another, lies deep within the genes of many of the readers of the News.

"Within this diverse industry the sound of the nail-maker’s hammer resounds through the history of Birmingham and the Black Country."

Halesowen novelist Francis Brett Young, who Dr Hall has written a biography of, wrote in detail about nail-making.

Dr Hall added: "Nail-making was a theme which Young would go on to graphically (and accurately) describe through nine of his evocative novels set in the region.

"Using Young’s portrait as a framework I wrote In Cramped and Sooty Caverns which tells the story of hand-made nail-making from its earliest recorded origins to the demise of the industry around 1930."

The book is illustrated by a series of specially commissioned drawings from local artist John Hadley.

Dr Hall said: "This is a book which makes fascinating and often poignant reading, inviting the reader to engage with the hardships suffered by those who toiled in the “cramped and sooty caverns” which were the nail-shops. "

The book, which is published by the Black Country Society, will be launched at Quinton Methodist Church on Saturday, February 22 at 10.30am.

By special permission of the BBC, the launch will include a dramatised reading of The Nailers, a short play originally broadcast in 1951, then starring members of the original cast of The Archers.

The Black Country Society is putting on this free event which includes refreshments.

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