In the first half of the 19th century there were frequent periods of depression in the coal and iron trades.
Even when production was at its highest during the Napoleonic Wars, wages did not keep pace with the rising cost of food.
When the war ended in 1815 demand for coal fell, and miners from across the Black Country and elsewhere dragged wagons full of coal towards London to publicise their plight.
There were periods of depression in between 1819 and 1843 which led to a lot of unrest. Riots took place in Wednesbury in 1801, 1826 and 1831.
Things got completely out of hand in 1826 when the Riot Act was read.
Around 20,000 striking miners from all over the Black Country gathered at Russell’s Field, behind the Turk’s Head Inn during August 1842.
They marched to any pit that was working to order the men out.
At West Bromwich the Riot Act was read to them and the Yeomanry took prisoners, who were tied to their saddle straps and taken to appear before the magistrate at the Turk’s Head Inn.
Many were committed for trial, and some were transported to the colonies.