It’s probably been about 10 years since my last visit to the Black Country Living Museum, and not much has changed, which is to be expected really, apart from an upgraded entrance with a new cafe area, also the Dudley Canal Trust (Which isn’t officially part of the Museum) has also had a significant building upgrade from their old green shed thanks to some National Lottery money.
Also since my last visit a certain Peaky Blinders program has took the nation and now even the US by storm. Gillian Murphy and his merry men of Brummies has given the country’s second city a tourism boost, and with it the Black Country Museum has reaped the benefits of providing not only a real life place to visit and pretend you’re Tommy Shelby, but scenes from the show have actually also been filmed here.
We visited the open air museum on a cold Friday in mid March during some annual leave and the prospect of another weekend of being snowed in. We decided to make the most of the Friday and venture out, all be it locally as rain was also forecast from 3pm. I’ll be glad to see the back of this Winter which has seemed to last forever.
Once you get into the Museum, it’s a bit of walk down to either the mine pit area, or to the first building and an old petrol station. We opted to not go down the mine exhibit due to my lady friend still recovering from a broken foot and wearing a big boot to support. The darkness and uneven surface seemed a bit of a silly idea.
The 1930s fairground was also not operating, which was a bit of a disappointment, but possibly to be expected at this early part of the season. A few school trips were also in attendance so it was kind of a shame the swings and helter skelter were not open for their enjoyment. Secretly, I was looking forward to going on the helter skelter. Oh well, maybe in a few years time!
We next moved down to the lime kilns and metal working, before moving into some of the residential housing where the workers would have lived, you get a good sense here of just how small the houses were and how cramped they would have been, with in some cases families of 6 all crammed into one of these tiny houses. In some instances what looks like the front and back of a house, was actually two separate houses!
After sampling some of the shops in the village, including a general store, chemist, sweet as well as the pub and church it was off to the Dudley Canal Trust building to book onto a 45 minute boat trip into the Dudley Tunnels where you learn all about the tunnels, mines and caverns deep under Dudley. This costs extra but is well worth it, even if you do get dripped on a fair bit.
More exploring of Village area saw trips to the tailors, the local school and also the chance to purchase some tasty chips.
Heading back up to the top of the Museum you come towards a working garage where there are loads of old vehicles on display, from sunbeams to old racers. Outside you’ll also find some old double decker buses and the opportunity to travel on a bus or a horse and cart.
Overall we probably spent a good 4 hours at the Museum exploring and learning things from the many exhibits, buildings and talking to the people in the houses/shops as they explained the workings of the many things on show.
Considering how long you might spend in a regular museum, it puts the entrance price into perspective and in my opinion makes the £17 entrance fee worthwhile. If you’ve got kids it will certainly be a worthwhile day out, although it may be worth waiting for the main summer season to ensure all things are open and running, such as the funfair.
Bring a packed lunch and make a day of it.
This post is not sponsored, we paid with our own hard earned money to enter the Museum.