Post-war prosperity and racial tension

Post-war prosperity and racial tension


The Black Country (1945-1966)

The post-war years transformed the Black Country of the English Midlands.

The region was a driving force in the country's industrial recovery and this was a golden era of working class prosperity with full employment and high wages.

But it was also a time of social tension.  The region's industry desperately needed labour to satisfy continuing demand. Attracted by the promise of high wages, an increasing number of men came to the Black Country towns like Smethwick and Wolverhampton from the Caribbean and the Indian Sub-Continent to fill these jobs.

Racial tensions grew, fuelled and encouraged by some local politicians.

Simon Briercliffe, a historian of the Black Country based at the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) discusses the causes of these tensions with our publisher, Mike Gibbs.

Keywords: Black Country, Race Relations, Enoch Powell, Smethwick, Wolverhampton

Forging Ahead

The Black Country was pivotal to Britain’s rapid shift from austerity to prosperity in the two decades after World War Two. Britain was an economic and imperial superpower, and the Black Country’s manufacturing industry was central to its success. As the region’s landscape changed from industrial dereliction into a modern...



Simon Briercliffe

In: Black Country, Black Country Living Museum,

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