In 1978 a severe subsidence occurred on the outskirts of Wednesbury, a town in the middle of the Black Country. The Black Country is the heavily industrialized area of the West Midlands (see Fig. 1) lying between Birmingham and Wolverhampton (Fig. 2). The subsidence was caused by the collapse of a limestone mine abandoned 100 years before.
The area of known limestone mines in the Black Country is some 2 km2, about 0.50f the total land area, and about half of the mines are beneath built-up areas. The majority of the mines were worked and then abandoned during the early and middle years of the Industrial Revolution, between 1790 and 1890, although a few continued to produce limestone until the mid 1920s.
The subsidence at Wednesbury prompted the commissioning of a 2 year study of the problem, by the Department of the Environment jointly with the West Midlands County Council and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sand well and Walsall. The study was undertaken by Ove Arup & Partners and the report A study of Limestone workings in the West Midlands was published in July 1983.
The subsequent commitment of central Government to make funds available through their Derelict Land Reclamation Programme has enabled Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, together with Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council, to engage Ove Arup & Partners to make detailed investigations into the extent and condition of the abandoned workings. These investigations are now being followed by design and execution of appropriate remedial measures, where these