Exploring the most Picturesque & Historic parts of England
This is a delightful outdoor museum developed with flair and imagination to celebrate all that is best of the rich social and industrial history and heritage of what is known as the Black Country in the heart of the West Midlands.
Here on a site tucked beneath the stout walls of Dudley Castle (C.13th century) an entire Victorian village is re-created. The site is filled with authentic buildings, taken down from other parts of the Black Country and rebuilt to give the visitor a fascinating insight into a way of life that for good or ill, has long since disappeared. The museum is a living tribute to the stout hearted people of the Midlands who witnessed the advancement of the Industrial Revolution which brought new machinery for glass and metal working factories, the railways, coalmines, the canals and the hard won Victorian schoolroom bringing free education as every child's right.
The story of it all is here in one spell-binding exhibition which will enthral and amaze you, for at the dawn of the Victorian era it was not unheard of for children to be working in all sorts of places ranging from domestic service in grand houses, to below ground in the mines.
One of the most delightful parts of the museum covers the heritage of the canal people who throughout the 18th and 19th centuries developed their own colourful lifestyle and traditions. Often whole families worked long, painful hours hauling coal and other goods along the network of canals throughout the Midlands. The landscape occupied by the museum is bounded on three sides by waterways, the Dudley Tunnel Branch of the Birmingham Canal and two arms, one leading to old lime kilns and the other to a working boat-dock, such as you would have seen a century or so ago.
Colourful traditional Narrowboats are moved around the village and you can see the horse-drawn Joey boats that were once a common sight on the Birmingham canal. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of the steamboat President, but mostly this is out on regular journey's around the English canal waterways.
The traditional fairground of a century or so ago is the greatest thrill, it has a collection of rides and amusements typical of the travelling fairs that set up in the towns of the region, bringing a few days of fun for one and all. It has nostalgic stalls, swingboats, and Helter-Skelter, and since its creation in 1983 the fairground at the museum has been operated by the third and fourth generation of the Jones family. This family, from Cradley Heath in the Midlands, have travelled with fairs since the early part of the 20th century.
Another great pleasure is the Stable Block, for this is where you will find the horses who so epitomise the workings of agriculture, the mines and the pulling of drays delivering beer. William is a beautiful Shire Horse and Benji is a delightful Shetland Cross, similar to the ponies that worked in the pits, although Benji has never been below ground in his life!
With all of this, plus three fabulous exhibition halls, trams and trolley buses to ride on, an authentic Victorian pub and fish n' chips, it is hardly surprising to find that this is the one of the West Midlands most visited attractions. The museum is a wonderfully friendly place, full of old-world charm and atmosphere, it really does have something for everyone, no matter how young or how old!
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