With the crazy weather that we’re currently having, seriously, bright blue skies to snow in a matter of minutes, what is that, myself and Jamie decided to make the most of a rare sunny Sunday and took a trip to the Black Country Living Museum. We first came here together a year ago and it absolutely poured with rain so we missed out on loads of the activities so, a full day was needed in the sun to see everything that the museum has to offer! If you’re not from the West Midlands, you’ve probably never heard of the Black Country Living Museum, but, if you get the chance, I urge you to visit! The ‘Black Country’ was an area of the West Midlands that became one of the most industrialised areas of the UK during the Industrial Revolution and was famous for its coal mining, iron foundries and steel mills. The area took its name from the soot produced by the industries, and from the gigantic coal-seem found under the surface of the land.
I’m a Black Country girl through and through. My grandparents kept numerous pubs throughout the area during my childhood and I’ve recently moved back to the area in my own house, and so it was fab to visit the museum and feel a real connection to the exhibits.
The Black Country Living Museum is a museum with a difference. There are no huge white rooms full of artefacts in glass boxes, there are buildings to explore, people to interact with and old victorian traditions to try out.
On arrival at the museum, you’re met by a whole host of old vehicles ranging from Fire Engines which believe it or not served well into the 1960’s, to motorbikes and sports cars. The vehicles are fascinating to look at and the museum has recently taken drone footage of them being driven around the site, giving you a real insight into what life was like.
You can take a ride on the buses to get you from one end of the village to another, or, if you fancy something a little different, there’s trolley buses and trams, complete with old-fashioned advertisements from some well loved brands. After checking out the garages, we headed into the little houses that are dotted around, often complete with a knowledgeable staff member in costume who can tell you the history of the building going back hundreds of years. These houses were dismantled brick by brick from locations around the Black Country and were rebuilt and furnished on site. There’s everything from tiny, one room cottages to more grand homes, most featuring a cosy open fire.
One of my highlights of the day was a trip down the old coal mine which gave a real insight into the conditions that those working in the industry would have had to have battled every day. You take a hard hat and a torch and head underground for a 25minute walking tour, complete with a fabulous guide and animated exhibits every few minutes, telling you the story of the average day down the mines. Neither of us had done the mine tour since we were children and it was absolutely fascinating, especially as our new home is in the centre of an old mining area. After the mines, we headed down to the lower part of the village which is where you’ll find a collection of Victorian shops that you can go into to purchase goodies including cakes, sweets, fish and chips, cobs and pork pies. There’s also a school where you can take part in a traditional lesson (if you’re brave enough) complete with chalk and slate to write on, a fun fayre with a helta skelta and other rides and my favourite part, a proper, old fashioned pub, serving a range of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages.
Our recent visit was all about doing and seeing the parts of the museum that we’d previously missed and so after our trip down the mines, we grabbed some traditional ‘best fried fillets and quality chipped potatoes’. The queue at the on site chip shop is often huge but my god are they worth it! Bellies full we headed to the canal to take an underground trip through Dudley’s famous tunnels on a barge. These tunnels were the main source of transport for coal and other products of the industry for hundreds of years and have now been turned into a tourist attraction. The canal trip that we took lasted for around 45minutes and saw us going through tight, dark tunnels before coming out into huge, open caverns where music and light shows were put on for our entertainment, a definite must if you’re in the area!
To finish of our day out, we headed into the pub for a pint of proper, cider, the non-fizzy kind, and to relax by the open fire. We picked up a couple of huge cheese and onion cobs to bring home for our tea that night and boy was that a good decision!If you ever find yourself around the Birmingham area and have a few hours to kill, or, if you’re looking for a fab, family day out with heaps to do, I’d wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the Black Country Living Museum. This is my heritage and I’m incredibly proud to be from this area and so I’m probably a little bit bias but it’s well worth a visit, even if it’s just for fish, chips and a pint!