It was my Mother-in-Law’s birthday last Sunday so I suggested a trip to the Black Country Museum. M-i-L is in her 70s so has memories of some of the things there and, from a selfish point of view, I haven’t been for years and really fancied it!
The museum recreates life from the 1900s through to around the 1950s in the “Black Country”, which is the part of the West Midlands in the UK that was dominated by heavy industry during the industrial revolution and became known such because of the black layers of soot and coal dust which settled over the area. Legend has it that Queen Victoria drove through and lowered the window blinds on her carriage so not to have to look at the grimy landscape. Despite all that, people from the Black Country are known as “salt of the earth” – hard working, straight talking, down to earth people with no airs and graces.
I’m originally a Black Country girl, born in West Bromwich, although now I live in South Birmingham and have done for the past 10 years.
The museum has a range of “living” exhibits; houses reclaimed from demolition or clearance that have been painstakingly rebuilt brick by brick within their grounds; a working mine to demonstrate the conditions of miners during the industrial revolution, chainmakers, old cars, a running tram, an old fashioned fairground, chemist, bakery, sweet shop and general stores. Many of the buildings are manned by volunteers in period dress who will chat and answer questions and show the history of the time. Two of the main attractions are the pub (The Bottle & Glass) which serves traditional ales and the fish and chip shop which serves traditional fish and chips cooked in beef dripping and served in paper. I can confirm that they are very very good indeed!
There’s also an 1800s school where visitors can partake in “lessons”, a canal boat trip which takes visitors through the canal tunnels and into open caverns which were mined in years gone by, and horses being led along the street!
I think it’s so important for places like this to exist, and I do wonder what the future of them will be when the generation of people that remember some of the details first hand are no longer around. Considering a lot of kids these days don’t even remember time before mobile phones, I can imagine this is quite mindblowing for the younger generation!
Here are some pictures from the day.
The museum is great value at £16.95 for an adult ticket (or £15.95 if booked online in advance) and the ticket is also valid for a whole year, so you can return as many times as you like, which is ideal if you live not too far away, like me.
Have you ever been to the Black Country Museum? Let me know!
Thanks, as always, for reading! x