By the late nineteenth century the Black Country had become one of the most intensely industrialised areas of the nation: the South Staffordshire coal mines, the coal coking operations, and the iron foundries and steel mills that used the local coal to fire their furnaces, produced a level of air pollution that had few equals anywhere in the world. Indeed, Charles Dickens described how the area's local factory chimneys 'Poured out their plague of smoke, obscured the light, and made foul the melancholy air'. Also, the anchors and chains for the ill-fated liner RMS Titanic were manufactured in the Black Country in the area of Netherton. However, the history of the area stretches far further back than its industrial past. This book traces the origins of the area from its earliest inhabitants, through the Middle Ages, and up to the present day. Many towns are featured in the book, e.g. Halesowen, Kingswinford, Stourbridge, Tipton, Walsall, Wednesbury, West Bromwich , Dudley, Warley, Blackheath and Brownhills.