Flag of the Black Country
|Adopted||14 July 2012|
|Design||Per pall reversed Sable, Gules and Argent a pall reversed Argent over all an inverted chevron of chain counterchanged Argent, Sable, Argent|
|Designed by||Gracie Sheppard|
In April 2012 the Black Country Living Museum launched a competition to design a flag for the Black Country. The competition was launched in response to a campaign by the Parliamentary Flags & Heraldry Committee, encouraging local communities to develop their own flags to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II and the United Kingdom's hosting of the Olympics during 2012.
The creation of the flag was used as the catalyst for starting an official Black Country Day & Festival in 2014. Black Country Day was first introduced in March 2013 but later moved to July 14th to mark the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen beam engine.
In July 2017, West Midlands newspaper the Express & Star reported that recently-elected local MP Eleanor Smith had described the flag as "racist" and "offensive" and wanted it to be scrapped, citing possible slavery connotations of the chain imagery and colours. Responding to criticism, Smith said the flag made her feel "uneasy", and that she had been expressing the concerns of some constituents, but denied describing it as racist.
The flag owes its design to a quote made in 1862 by Elihu Burritt, the American Consul in Birmingham. He described the region as “black by day and red by night” — a result of the local furnaces giving out smoke and grime during the day and glowing by night. The flag background is therefore both black and red, with the chains showing a typical product manufactured in the area. The central white area represents the glass cone, a symbol of the region's glass-making heritage since 1790.
The Pantone colours for the flag are:
- Red 186 C
Flying the flag
The Flag is one of very few regional, non-historic county, flags that may be flown without consent of a local planning authority, providing the flag is "maintained in a condition that does not impair the overall visual appearance of the site" and does not block official signs (such as road signs).
In 2013, on Black Country Day (14 July), the Black Country flag was flown alongside the United Kingdom’s Union flag, at Eland House, the head quarters of the Department for Communities and Local Government in Victoria, London.
- "Black Country - UK Flag Registry". Flag Institute. 22 January 2014.
- "Black Country Flag Design – Officially Registered". Black Country Living Museum. April 2012.
- Madeley, Pete (15 July 2017). "Black Country flag is 'racist' and should be scrapped says Wolverhampton MP Eleanor Smith". Express & Star. Wolverhampton. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
- "MP's 'unease' over Black Country flag". BBC News. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
- "The flag of the Black Country, East Anglia, Wessex, any Part of Lincolnshire, any Riding of Yorkshire or any historic county within the United Kingdom" (Department for Communities and Local Government (November 2012), Plain English guide to flying flags (PDF), ISBN 978-1-4098-3709-1)
- "Black Country flag flies high in Whitehall". GOV.UK. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
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