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Dudley, in the Midlands, had been associated with iron production since the middle ages. However, during the eighteenth century the industry expanded massively and a new canal system was introduced. Turner’s composition, recorded in this engraving, contrasts the industrial and commercial activity in the foreground with the town’s old buildings silhouetted on the hill.

The art critic John Ruskin said that the castle and church spire seen in this way represented ‘the passing away of the baron and the monk’ in the face of modern industry.

August 2004