The Black Country played a major role in the creation of the modern world. It was here that the Industrial Revolution was at its most intense. It is a unique place, packed with incredible and surprising heritage features and colourful stories to be discovered. The Black Country became a UNESCO Global Geopark on Friday 10 July 2020 in recognition of the international importance of its natural and cultural heritage.
The geology here is very rich in industrial minerals. Limestone, ironstone, fireclay, coal and other industrial minerals provided the ingredients to make iron and paved the way for an intense and very early part of the so-called Industrial Revolution to begin here.
Abraham Darby, the so-called 'father of the industrial revolution', was born at Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve. Through rich mineral wealth, the ingenuity of people like Abraham Darby and the freedom to experiment allowed the Black Country to become the world’s first large industrial area (sometimes referred to as the 'Workshop of the World'). Intense industry covered the land, churned it over and covered it with noise and thick choking smoke and soot and turned it into a country ‘black by day and red by night’.
It is no surprise that many aspects of engineering and geological science began here amidst all this activity and experimentation. The intense demand for minerals drove new developments including the world’s first geological map of Dudley Castle Hill (Metallum martis 1665) the world's first effective steam mines pumping engine (the Newcomen Engine at Conygrea 1712).
Come and explore past worlds in the Black Country.
Black Country Geopark Application
After submitting its final stage of the application to UNESCO last year, the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark became a reality on Friday 10 July 2020. The Executive Board of UNESCO confirmed that the Black Country has been welcomed into the network of Global Geoparks as a place with internationally important geology, because of its cultural heritage and the active partnerships committed to conserving, managing and promoting it. This means the Black Country is now on a par with UNESCO Global Geoparks in countries stretching from Brazil to Canada and Iceland to Tanzania.
Geopark status recognises the many world-class natural and important cultural features in the Black Country and how they come to tell the story of the landscape and the people that live within it. In the case of the Black Country, the significant part it played in the industrial revolution has been at the heart of the bid. More than forty varied geosites have been selected so far within the Geopark that tell its story as a special landscape but more will be added as the Geopark develops.
Many UNESCO Global Geoparks provide useful online learning resources. If you would like to find out more, the links below will lead you to the home sites of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network