Black Country Living Museum
0121 557 9643
Black Country Living Museum Birmingham Reviews
The Black Country Living Museum Feb 29, 2008
Ok.... so I know that Dudley, the capital of The Black Country, is not the most glamorous of places (no Chanel or LV shops here girls!). I also know that many of you will probably have never even have heard of it! However.... if you want to sample a piece of real England, especially how real English working class people used to live less than 100 years ago, then look no further than The Black Country Museum... Britain's friendliest open air museum, so they claim... and to be fair, a museum Policeman did offer me a piggy back as I strolled in! Oh... and just to warn you... in this review I may try and use the odd Black Country word too!
Anyway... a little geography/history lesson for y'all first, so seat belts on, hang tight and enjoy the ride:
The Black country is located just slightly North/North West of Birmingham and encompasses the three Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton (do not go to this city on your own late at night.. it's rougher than a bear's backside!). Local legend tells a tale that The Black Country is named as such, due to the iron foundries and steel mills that used the local coal to fire the furnaces. This produced a level of air pollution that had few equals anywhere in the world; and so The Black Country was born, because of the pollution from these heavy industries that covered the area in black soot. However (and this version dashes my Black Country dream), historians suggest that it is more likely that the name existed even before the Industrial Revolution, due to outcroppings of black coal which scarred the surface of the local heath, and the presence of the coal so near the surface, which rendered the local soil very black. Yes... it's from Wikipedia.. but you didn't know this did you? I prefere the first version anyway though!
Yep... I know what you're thinking! What the heck (polite version) is the lad doing on a rare English sunny June, in the heart of the West Midlands, when he should be reviewing a Carribean island or something? Well... these are my roots and you should never deny them should you? Plus.. my old man loves a day full of chat and nostalgia, so off we went, with our flasks of tea and roast beef and dripping sarnies. Yam yam!!! (This nearly worked... as a "yam yam" is the nickname for someone from The Black Country).
So here is an account of the day and a review of the museum....
As soon as we walked towards the queue.. and yes I said queue, as we couldn't believe the amount of people that were there..., we were greeted by a proper "Peeler" (The old name for a Policeman) who was a "bostin' fella" (bostin' = brilliant), and he gave us a map too! By the way.. if something is "Oss Bostin'", it means it's even better! Anyway, as we walked into the museum, we saw that within the entrance halls, were tributes to famous people from The Black Country like... erm... Duncan Edwards (Busby Babe/footballer), Sue Lawley (BBC News reader) and Roger Moore's mother (I couldn't stop laughing at that one)! But, as this is mainly an open air museum... it was time to pop the question...
"Oh... what's that on the map then dad? Really.. you want to see the trolly buses"? He sure did bless him, so off we sprinted, my dad quicker than a greyhound on heat, outside and on to the sheds that housed some "real beauties" (according to dad)!
I have to admit, I was very impressed with the condition of the trolly buses (or tramcars as they call them there) and.. wait for it... can you imagine how happy my old man was when I told him that I'd also sneakily bought a ticket for a ride on one of them that worked? Even The Joker would have been hard pressed to produce a smile like the one on my dad's "kipper" (face), so on we hopped, waving our tickets to the conductor with pride for the "next stop", as the conductor bellowed, "the mine shaft" - ding ding!
Now the mine shaft was something I really wanted to experience and so did my dad, and just before we went down, we had to put on hard hats and grab some torches. Yes, we did play Gremlin faces and I remember hearing a guy tell his wife to "stop being so seft", as she was trying to bail out, due to terror of the dark probably! And boy.. was it dark... and damp, cold and narrow, until you worked your way down to the bottom and into the open shaft itself. In all seriousness, it is amazing how people worked in those conditions. In fact most died very early due to what we now know as pneumoconiosis (lung disease).. not very nice at all. If that didn't get them, then serious injuries were a plenty due to rock fall and explosions! Still, I got to see my mine and the commentary was very informative.
Next on the agenda was a little walk towards the old village, where we ate good old traditional fish and chips followed by a pint of ale, which was an absolute belter... so we had another one! Interestingly though, we went into the houses and shops and listened to the folks tell us what life would have been like living in times yonder. I honestly thought I would hate it but, as the day continued, I started to get a real sense and feeling of the community that would have existed, and I liked it! In fact I was enjoying it so much, that I decided to go and have a maths lesson in the school!
After the village we walked onto the canal side. This was nothing new to my dad, so we didn't take a ride on a barge, but we did find out that Birmingham... which is close by... has more canals than Venice! Yeah.. it probably has more tyres floating in the canals too, but as I love Birmingham, I did like this astounding fact. Maybe they should do the next "Cornetto" adverts in Brum then huh?
Time was pressing on... sandwiches were eaten and so on we zoomed to our last port of call... the good old fashioned fair ground. Now when my old man saw this, and he had saved it until last on purpose I think, I saw his eyes well up with happiness, probably recalling his child hood days. I left him and was silent, so he could enjoy the moment, before having a crack on the Coconut Shy and winning absolutely "nout"! There was also a very beautiful carousel with horses leaping to the music, and an old helter skelter, but we decided the day was over and it was time to head home for another beer, a chin wag and time to reflect on what had been a fun day!
Do I recomend The Black Country Museum? Yes I do, because as the entrance fee is only £11.95 (ker-ching!), you can take the "rents" with you, and they will love it and this in turn will make you happy. I also personally learned a lot about how life would have been like many years ago in a traditional working class environment, and so consider myself very lucky. The Black Country is so very friendly too and the workers/actors/actresses were so helpful and smiley. Ok... I'm not saying fly here from Australia to especially to see it or anything, but if I was to give advice to anyone visiting this country, it would be to look around the country and see some other types of history, instead of just sticking to the main stream. I'm also not saying to give London a miss, as I love the city and live there myself! All I am saying is that there are other places which will give you a sense of real England, like The Black Country Museum, so go and see these too!
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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