Dudley, in the West Midlands, is located approximately 125 miles north-west of London and 6 miles south of Wolverhampton.
The town has a population of around 195,900. Administratively it is within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley which covers an area of approximately 98 sq kms and which has a population of around 305,000.
Situated in the Black Country it was once renowned as a centre of the iron industry and is dominated by its 13th-century castle which sits on a hill overlooking the town. It is now a thriving commercial, retail and leisure centre which has seen much modern development and urban regeneration, whilst maintaining its heritage. As well as its other visitor attractions, the town is popular with fossil hunters and geologists exploring the nearby nature reserve of Wren's Nest Hill.
Dudley has a history dating back to medieval times. A castle has stood here since the 8th century; the present castle dates from the 13th century, and provided the centre around which the town grew. Dudley industrialised rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries, and its population grew dramatically. Due to its heavy and highly polluting industries it became a central part of the Black Country.
Historically, the main industries in Dudley included coal and limestone mining. Other industries included iron, steel, engineering, metallurgy, glass cutting, textiles and leatherworking. Most of these industries have declined in recent decades. Today the town is still an important manufacturing base, but there are numerous tourist attractions including the zoo and castle.
The name Dudley derived from Dudo, the Saxon, who built a castle here in 760 AD. The town was listed as Dudelei in the Domesday Book of 1086.