Black Country Élites is a study of the people who ran Victorian industrial towns; it also examines the institutions, policies, rituals, and networks these urban élites deployed to cope with urban growth, social unrest, and relative economic decline. Concentrating on a particularly grimy district of the industrial Midlands, the book demonstrates the surprisingly great resources, coherence, sophistication and impact of the area's mainly middle
class leaders, who were well linked to regional and national power centres. Richard H. Trainor's extensively researched and richly documented analysis suggests the need to re-examine the influential view that Victorian Britain's social development was dominated by London and by land, the professions,
and finance. Instead he indicates the complex give-and-take between the metropolis and its notables, on the one hand, and the industrial provinces and their leaders, on the other. The book is both a substantial addition to regional studies of Victorian Britain, and an important contribution to the history of nineteenth-century elites and of the urban middle class.
`This is a substantial, wide-ranging, deeply researched and densely argued study of elites in the provincial industrial towns of nineteenth-century England ... an important book which provides fuel for many debates as well as raising questions of its own.'
R. J. Morris, Urban History
'This book fills a number of gaps in the social history of nineteenth-century England ... it is a longitudinal study covering almost the entire Victorian era ... Trainor's book is among the best new publications on the English middle classes ... a true treasure-trove for anyone interested in the details of this study, or the local history of the towns under discussion. All in all, this is a highly stimulating book of outstanding scholarly value, great
depth, and fascinating detail.'
German Historical Institute London Bulletin, Volume XVI, No. 3, November 1994
'it is refreshing to read Richard H. Trainor's book ... Richard H. Trainor has written an adventurous and deeply-informed book. His research and knowledge are outstanding ... It is well written, extensively researched, thoughtfully argued and stimulating.'
Carl Chinn, University of Birminhgam, Labour History Review, Vol. 59, No. 3, Winter 1994
`His long-awaited monograph provides a comprehensive study of the Black Country 'elites', and takes its place beside a growing number of regional studies of the urban middle class. Trainor sets out his case by skilfully interweaving a vast range of archival and parliamentary sources with a well-developed secondary literature, and numerous unpublished theses. ..a study which is unlikely soon to be bettered for this regional elite.'
`richly researched, detailed, and statistically documented investigation of Black Country elites...Trainor's study of the Black Country elites provides a rehearing, and furthermore it indicates the robustness of detailed studies of local exercise of authority within the changing field of British social history.'
Journal of Social History
`This book is an extremely detailed and thorough examination of the authority wielded by individuals holding leadership posts in the major institutions of the Black Country...Richard Trainor intends his book to be a contribution to the role that the leaders of the industrial provinces play in Victorian society, and indeed, it is a valuable addition to the literature on this subject...The author is to be congratulated on producing such a wide-ranging and
deeply researched book...an impressive piece of work, of great value not only to Black Country historians, but also to historians interested in social change in the industrial provinces of Britain in the nineteenth century.'
`The picture which Trainor paints of the Black Country elites is an attractive one...Dr Trainor will be perceptive enough to recognise that he has written a controversial book...it is a generous book, which recognises the contribution of other scholars even where the author disagrees with them. This is unusual enough these days to be worth recording...He displays formidable forensic skills to support his equally formidable scholarship. And he writes good,
clear English. His book is a major contribution to our understanding of the nineteenth-century Black Country...one of the most important and welcome American American visitors to the Black Country.'
`Abundant material backs rounded judgements, conveyed in consistently clear, straightforward language'
Olive Anderson, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, EHR, June 1996
`Richard H. Trainor's monograph - a feat of impressive scholarship, it should be said at the outset - comprises a welcome contribution to this historiographical trend.'
American Historical Review, December 1995