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The Harvey family were miners from the 'Black Country'. This region is defined by geology and is loosely defined as the area of the West Midlands, north west of the city of Birmingham, beneath which lies the ‘ten yard’ coal seam, Britain's thickest and richest seam of coal. The area includes the towns of Bilston, Brierley Hill, Dudley, Halesowen, Oldbury, Tipton, Wednesbury, and West Bromwich. By 1860, within five miles of Dudley there were 441 pits; as the coal bed was rarely more than 400 feet below the surface, many of these were small shallow coal mines that were cheaper to run than deeper mines. In addition, the region contained 181 blast furnaces, 118 iron works, 79 rolling mills and 1,500 puddling furnaces, all pouring out smoke.

The illustration below shows a pit head in the early nineteenth century.

harvey family: boys from the black stuff

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