The Black Country was an area of small towns and villages until Industry arrived -- and Industry arrived because of the district's geology. Dudley Castle is built of limestone and the 'Seven Sisters' caverns beneath it are quarried from limestone. Where the Black Country isn't limestone, it's basalt, streaked with rust from the iron in it. Alongside enormous quarries there were enormous 'marl-holes': holes from which marl, or clay had been dug. And through the Black Country ran the massive thirty-foot coal seam. It was said to be the only place in the world where ladders were needed to cut coal.
My devil comes to a sticky end too, though not by hanging and I'd like to make it clear that my devil, though inspired by Dunn, is not intended to be a portrait
of him. My devil, Amadeus Warley, is far more wicked. And, of course, this being fiction, has genuine supernatural powers.
Another of the characters, Rattle, goes to visit the Devil and has to walk through the town of Dudley (called 'Dudham' in the book) through its streets of slum dwellings, where blood and guts were washed downhill from the market-place beneath the castle walls. The narrow streets were often blocked with refuse, including human waste. A din of hammers rings out on all sides. Dudley was a nailing town.
Rattle is a 'pit bonk wench' -- a girl who usually works on the pit banks, loading coal onto carts, or carting away waste earth and rock to the 'pit bonks.' In my childhood, if a girl or woman was untidy or grubby, they were accused of 'looking like a pit-bonk wench.' The chains of figures cut out of newspaper to amuse children were always called 'pit-bonk wenches.' That, or 'brickle wenches' who were very similar wenches who worked in brick yards.
The pit bonk wenches you did not mess with. They were muscular and they came mob-handed. Old photographs usually show them dressed in skirts, bonnets and big boots
and grimy as anyone would be who worked loading coal all day. I think they'd dressed in their best for these photos, though, as the tales I was told as a child always described them as wearing an
old flat cap that had once belonged to a male relative and often one of his old jackets too. Sometimes a shawl or sack was draped around the head and shoulders with the flat cap on top. And a
pipe in the corner of the mouth.
I've never seen photos of them wearing trousers but they did. They often rode astride on the horses that pulled the carts and were climbing on and off carts all day. It was easier to wear trousers.