Black Country Living Museum
It could hardly be easier to step back in time. Visitors just need to get on the tram, and take it in to town. While strolling around the shops, they can watch the children whipping their spinning-tops in the street. In order to learn more about the wares in the historic shop windows it only takes to ask the shopkeepers who are keen to talk about the benefits of their products. Fancy a cinema experience? Most certainly there is a film on show. The children will be happy to slide down the helter-skelter on a traditional fairground. And what about a picnic on the canal side with a bag of chips, finding oneself wondering how real this long gone world actually feels? The same discovery applies to the pigs in the back-yard of a cottage that is sinking into the ground because of the mine workings beneath it. The Black Country Living Museum effortlessly transports visitors to the late 18th and early 19th century when the working of shallow coal seams and the vents of industrialization turned this area black. All the buildings of the open-air museum are original and have been moved here to save them from development. Costumed staff bring the period to life and make their guests a part of the story.
It was in the 1830s when the heavy industry conquered the area north and west of Birmingham. At that time, the Black Country already was known for its vast, partly near-surface coal layers. Now, iron mills, foundries and coke plants joined the numerous mines. The region was described as ´Black by day and red by night´ by Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham in 1862 and other authors, from Dickens to Shenstone, refer to the intensity of manufacturing in the Black Country and its effect on the landscape and its people.
Since then the immense industrial plants have largely disappeared. Only the award-winning Black Country Living Museum is still deeply rooted in Victorian times. Dozens of museum employees, dressed up as Victorian craftsmen, shopkeepers, projectionists, bobbies, and even entire families, keep the memory of the industrial heritage alive by enacting the material culture back in the era of booming industrialization. Nobody would suspect that this vibrant town sprang up in a completely derelict place. The idea of an open-air museum was first drafted in the 1950s by a private network of enthusiasts. In 1966 Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council set up a Black Country Museum section that collected artefacts on the region’s history and propelled the museum plans. Ten years later, the decision was taken to establish a viable open-air museum on a brownfield with many old mine shafts and a water treatment works. In 1980, a tramway system was installed to connect the site with the town, and by 1985 visitor numbers had grown to 250,000 a year. On an area covering more than twenty six acres, people delve deep into history, shaped by approximately 80,000 items, and explore, among others, the museum’s most recent addition: Old Birmingham Road, Dudley's high street of the 1930s, which was completely moved to its new location in 2010.
|Recommended duration of visit:||4 Hours|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
March to October:
daily 10am – 5pm
November to February:
Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 4pm
- Guided tours optional