We are in the Midlands for a few days this week for the Easter holidays. Regular readers will know that my in-laws live in Royal Leamington Spa, and we try and visit them often as it is a lovely area. Today we went to Dudley (which is about 50 minutes northwest of Leamington) to visit the Black Country Living Museum.
First of all, I had to ask why it was called the ‘black country’. Apparently the area was given the name due to the smoke and soot from the ironworking foundries, but maybe also because of the 30-foot thick coal seam near the surface. The Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) is an outdoor and indoor museum set over 26 acres that shows us what life was like in a Black Country town in the 1800s.
We spent four hours at the BCLM and probably only managed to see/do half of what was on offer. We walked around the village; saw the vintage buses, cars and motorbikes; rode on the tram; and went into some original houses to see how they were set up and speak to their ‘owners’ about life back then. Moozles, who is almost eight, especially enjoyed going into the school and finding out how strict things were back then. Both children loved the Limelight Cinema (we watched a silent film starring Charlie Chaplin).
We didn’t go underground inside the mine, as we weren’t sure how Dubz would handle it. But we would like to give it a a visit next time. I also wanted to see the chain-making demonstration, but we missed that as well. We did manage to enjoy some items from the sweet shop and the bakery. We had lunch at The Workers’ Institute & Cafe (I had a pasty, which made me feel very British). We would have liked to try Hobbs & Sons Fish N’ Chip shop, but there was a long queue and the kids were starving.
After lunch, we went upstairs and the kids got to try on some clothing from the day. Dubz was a bit disappointed that there were no scary costumes but was happy to try on hats while Moozles enjoyed some vintage capes and dresses. We also visited the chemist and found out that you could have your baby weighed for 1 pence, and buy a toothbrush with bristles made from pig’s hair (which you might share with your entire family). If in need of a tooth to be removed, the chemist would also sort this for you, and your dog.
I’ve done a little vlog of our day out, at the bottom of the post. When I asked Moozles what her favourite part of the day was, she said that it as the fair. Although we did not spend very much time in the vintage fairground, the kids enjoyed going on the Helter-Skelter. Dubz had never been on a Helter-Skelter before, and he had to go with a grown-up because he is small, but he loved it and went twice.
If you are thinking of visiting the Black Country Living Museum, they are open daily from 10am-4pm/5pm (though they are closed for a couple of weeks in the beginning of the year). Tickets are a bit cheaper if you buy them online. Full-priced, and online, tickets are valid for unlimited visits for 12 months. If you live nearby, this is a great deal as you could easily visit two or three times. For one day’s visit, I do think it is a bit expensive. It cost almost £40 for three of us to enter, Dubz was free as he is under five, and there is an additional £3.00 charge for car parking. But we did enjoy ourselves, learned a few things and hopefully we will return to the BCLM in the next year.