You’ll need to exchange some money at the bank when you arrive, because the coins they used in 1900 were very different to the ones in your pocket today. But even a few pennies can buy quite a lot in 1900; a bag of boiled sweets, a pork pie, a glass of beer.
The recreation of Victorian life here is amazingly detailed and real. You might not want to visit the dentist in the dispensary. He powers his drill with a foot treadle. But you might like to stroke the noses of the Shire horses, or take a trip with them on the horse-drawn carriage. Around the town, you’ll find skilled people making all sorts of things – candles, hats, rocking-horses, printed posters and shoes. They will happily show you how it’s done.
The town is created from original buildings saved from around the area, and re-erected in a valley that was once full of smoke and fire. The remains of the great blast furnaces, which produced iron (and a lot of smoke) can still be seen, as can the huge inclined plane, where canal boats were hauled up the steep slope from the bottom of the valley to the canal above the blast furnaces. There is a fascinating trail around these sites, along with more humble structures – a poor squatter’s cottage, and a corrugated iron ‘tin tabernacle’ church – which was ordered by mail, and arrived as a ‘flat pack’. Over a hundred years later, we do the same with our furniture, so perhaps 1900 wasn’t so different after all.