Black Country Living Museum

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Black Country Living Museum
Blackcountrystreet.jpg
The main village street
Established 1975[1]
Location Dudley, West Midlands
Type Local history
Director Andrew Lovett
Website http://www.bclm.com/
View towards the Back to Back (Brook Street) houses at the Black Country Living Museum
Hardware Store and Ironmonger's at the Black Country Living Museum, formerly Pipers Row Wolverhampton.

The Black Country Living Museum (formerly The Black Country Museum) is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley in the West Midlands of England.[1] It is close to Dudley Castle in the centre of the Black Country conurbation. The museum occupies 105,000 square metres (26 acres) of former industrial land partly reclaimed from a former railway goods yard, disused lime kilns and former coal pits. It was opened in 1978, since when many more exhibits have been added.

The museum preserves some important buildings from around the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton; mainly in a specially built village. Most buildings were relocated from their original sites to form a base from where demonstrators portray life in the period from the 1850s to the 1950s.

The museum is constantly changing as new exhibits, especially buildings, are being added.

Background[edit]

The museum is close to the site where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal and making iron enough for industrial use. Having a claim to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Black Country is famous for its wide range of steel-based products from nails to the anchor and anchor chain for the Titanic.

The site's coal mining heritage is shown by an underground drift and colliery surface buildings. The museum has a working replica of a Newcomen atmospheric engine. Thomas Newcomen's invention was first successfully put to use in Tipton in 1712.[2] The museum's reconstruction was based on a print engraved by Thomas Barney, filemaker of Wolverhampton, in 1719.[3]

Electric trams and trolleybuses transport visitors from the entrance to the village where thirty domestic and industrial buildings have been relocated close to the canal basin. The museum is one of three in the UK with working trolleybuses. The route to the village passes the Cast Iron Houses and a 1930s fairground. A narrowboat operated by Dudley Canal Trust makes trips on the Dudley Canal and into the Dudley Tunnel.

On 16 February 2012, the museum's collection was awarded designated status by Arts Council England (ACE),[4] a mark of distinction celebrating its unique national and international importance.[5]

Exhibitions[edit]

Ruby glass sweet bowl.

By the main entrance in the old Rolfe Street Baths are displays of local artefacts encompassing some of the many products which were made by Black Country industry, cast iron hollow ware, animal traps, vehicles, chain, anchors, enamels, weighing scales, laundry irons, nails, locks and fire clay products. The exhibition includes more fragile items such as glassware, reflecting the centuries old industry that produced lead crystal glass and the Joseph Chance glass works between Oldbury and Smethwick.

Mining and lime kilns[edit]

The museum site contained 42 disused mine shafts, most of which had been filled in. Two are preserved, one at the Racecourse Colliery and Brook Shaft.[6]

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen built the world's first successful steam engine which was used for pumping water from coal mines on Lord Dudley's estates. In 1986, after ten years of research, the museum completed the construction of a full-scale working replica of the engine. The 'fire engine' is housed in a brick building from which a wooden beam projects through one wall. Rods hang from the outer end of the beam and operate pumps at the bottom of the mine shaft which raise the water to the surface. The engine has a boiler, a cylinder and piston and operating valves. A coal fire heats water in the boiler which is little more than a covered pan and the steam generated passes through a valve into the brass cylinder above it. The cylinder is more than two metres long and 52 centimetres in diameter. The steam in the cylinder is condensed by injecting cold water and the vacuum beneath the piston pulls the inner end of the beam down causing the pump to move.[7]

Lime kilns at the Black Country Living Museum

Lime working and processing was carried out on the site from medieval times. Evidence of quarries and underground remains, the canal, and preserved lime kilns are parts of a scheduled ancient monument which has features from the medieval, Industrial Revolution and 20th century.[8] Standing alongside canal arm are the lime kilns, built by the Earl of Dudley to process limestone quarried from Wren's Nest workings. The earliest of the three surviving kilns dates from the late 18th century.[9]

Metal working[edit]

The trap shop was built in 1913 in Rookery Street, Wednesfield.[10] It was offered to the museum in 1982.[11] Sidebotham's Steel Trap Works was not rebuilt in its entirety and the original structure was shortened.[12] The exhibit, set around 1930, contains the office, trap shop and the machine shop.[13]

The nail shop is a replica of a back-yard workshop, built in the 1880s from 17 Chapel Street, Halesowen.[14] It houses equipment from the Halesowen workshop operated by Sidney Tether in the 1940s.[15] It is in use on a regular basis by the resident nail maker who demonstrates the skill of forging nails by hand.

The brass foundry was built in 1869 in Shaw Street, Walsall and closed after the Second World War but re-opened in 1964 by James Powell and used until his death in 1973. The building and its equipment were relocated to the museum in 1986.[15] It can be seen in operation when the brass caster demonstrates traditional skills in casting horse brasses, pot hooks and other small items.

The rolling mill installed at the Birchley Works in Oldbury in 1923 ceased to operate in 1976 and it was moved to Lord Ward's Canal Arm.[16] The museum operates the it from time to time using volunteers.

The chain maker's shop represents one of the many workshops that made small and medium size chain.[17] By the mid-1800s the chain industry was mostly associated with Cradley, Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Quarry Bank and Netherton.[17] It is operational and the skill of making chain by hand can be watched daily.

An Oliver hammer was a treadle-operated hammer that forged bolts by forcing red hot lengths of iron into a die. The machine shop contained several Oliver hammers used to forge special parts to order. It was founded by Onan Lowe and taken over by T. W. Lench Ltd.

Village[edit]

Glass engraver at work in a workshop in the village.

On the low ground at the northern end of the site, houses, shops, workshops and public buildings have been dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick to create an early 20th-century village. Activities in the buildings are demonstrated by staff in period costume. The village preserves a cross section of social and industrial history.[18]

The village shops include Gregory's General Store, Emile Doo's chemist shop, a sweet shop and cake shop with a bakery at the back. There is a hardware and ironmongers shop from Pipers Row in Wolverhampton.[19]and a pawnbroker's shop that was relocated to the museum in 1991.[20]

Brook Street back to back houses, built in the 1850s, were relocated from Woodsetton and were the homes of colliers, farm workers and ironworkers.[21] The anchor maker's house from Lawrence Lane in Old Hill was the first to be relocated to the museum and is an example of late-Victorian housing.[22]

Public buildings include Providence Chapel from Darby End/Hand near Netherton, one of the first buildings to be rebuilt, and the Bottle and Glass Inn a working public house set out as it would have been in 1910.

The village postbox stood on the corner of Baker Street and Blandford Street, London in 1865. It was and designed by architect J W Penfold and made by Cochrane, Grove and Company.[23]

The Carter's Yard from Ogley Hay Road Burntwood, Cannock was built around 1900. It was dismantled and brought to the museum in the 1990s.[24]

1930s Street (Old Birmingham Road)[edit]

Old Birmingham Road links St James's School[25] with the Cradley Heath Workers' Institute.[26] Here buildings have been set in the 1930s to tell the story of the years leading up to the Second World War.

Museum staff in St James's School demonstrate lessons and school life from the turn of the 20th century. The school building opened in Eve Hill, Dudley in 1842 for pupils aged 5–11. It was decided to transfer the building to the museum in 1989 and relocation was completed by October 1990, with the exhibit opening the following year.[25]

Hobbs & Sons[27] fish and chip shop and H Morrall's gentlemen's outfitters[28] have been returned to 1935 condition. The shops come from Hall Street, Dudley and date from the late-18th century and refaced with bright red pressed brickwork in 1889. The tiled interior of Hobbs features restored hand-painted tiled wall panels. The frying range is of a design patented in 1932 made by E.W. Proctor of Huddersfield. In the 1930s many of Joseph Hobbs's customers worked in factories or shops.

Four buildings were rescued from Birmingham Street, Oldbury and date to about 1860. The block is dominated by the green painted fascia of Humphrey Brothers,[29] builders' merchants, who occupied the premises from 1921. It has a replica shop front from about 1932. Humphreys sold fireplaces, sanitaryware and building supplies including Walpamur,®,[30] a flat paint used for internal walls. The motorcycle shop is based on the business of A. Hartill & Sons[31] which was located in Mount Pleasant, Bilston. The window displays of locally made six motor bikes from 1929–34. Next door is Alfred Preedy & Sons tobacconist shop,[32] established in Dudley in 1868. James Gripton's radio shop is from the 1920s and this reconstruction, set in 1939, contains 'new' and second radios.

The brick tunnel and cart entrance provide access to a late 1930s kitchen with an electric cooker made by Revo[33] of Tipton. There is a radio workshop behind Gripton's[34] and then the stairs lead to two first floor living rooms and two bedrooms which are all set in the late 1930s and furnished with original 1930s style furniture and wall paper.

The Cradley Heath Workers' Institute was built with surplus funds raised in 1910 during the strike for a minimum wage by women chain makers.[35] The Arts and Crafts style building was designed by architect, Albert Thomas Butler, and opened on 10 June 1912. It became a centre for educational meetings, social gatherings and trade union activities in Cradley Heath.[36] Re-erected at the museum it is a monument to Mary Macarthur and her campaign to establish a national minimum wage in the "sweated trades" where people worked long hours for poverty wages typically in appalling conditions. The building contains reconstructed offices, a news room with a digital interpretation of the background to the strike and a large hall which is used for a wide range of activities including theatre performances and concerts.

1930s fairground[edit]

The 1930s fairground located behind the school represents a travelling fairground that would have brought entertainment to people in the early 1900s. Such fairs set up on waste ground and for a few days provided thrills, entertainment and a change for those who might never go on holiday.[37] The collection of historic rides includes a helter skelter and the Ark, the latest thing in high-speed rides when introduced in the 1920s. It was updated over the years but not converted into a waltzer. It remains one of the few 'fourlift' Arks in the country.[37]

Lord Ward's Canal Arm[edit]

Work began on the boat dock in 1976 and the museum aimed to recreate a typical dock that would have been found on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN). Docks like the one at the museum would have been formed from recycled wooden boats. They were used to build wooden boats or maintain iron and composite boats.[38]

Dudley Canal Trust boat outside the Dudley Tunnel, behind the Black Country Living Museum.

Adjacent to the museum is the Dudley Tunnel. Visitors can take a trip into the tunnel to Wren's Nest, a scheduled monument and view the remains of extensive limestone quarrying on a boat operated by the Dudley Canal Trust.

Boat collection[edit]

The museum's boat display consists of boats that it owns, are on loan or have mooring agreements.

The museum owns:

Other boats at the museum:

  • District Number 1
  • Peacock
  • Coventry
  • GWR 15
  • BHP 2
  • FMC 138
  • BHP 3
  • Ross

Transport collection[edit]

Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company tram No. 5 operating at the museum in 1990

The size of the museum site provides the opportunity to demonstrate many of the road transport exhibits which were both used and made in the Black Country.

Trams[edit]

  • Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 5 Tividale single-decker built in 1920. This was the Museum's first tram. It has worked much more here than for its original owners; Off site awaiting overhaul.
  • Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 19 open-topper built in 1902. Stored awaiting restoration.
  • Wolverhampton Tramways Company Horse Tram No. 23 open-topper built in 1892. It is the Museum's oldest tram, and is currently on display at the back of the Tram Depot.
  • Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company No. 34 Tividale single-decker built in 1919. Returned to traffic in 1997 after restoration, it is now used regularly at the museum.
  • Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways open topper No. 49 built in 1909. Returned to traffic in 2004 after a 25-year restoration, is now in service in the museum.
  • Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company No. 75 Tividale single-decker built in 1919. Stored awaiting restoration.
  • Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways No. 102 Tividale single-decker built in 1920. Stored awaiting restoration.
  • Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd cable car No. 104 open-topper built in 1886. Stored awaiting restoration. One of only two double deck cable cars known to exist.
  • Lisbon No. 361 single-decker built in 1907. Stored awaiting restoration.

Motor buses[edit]

  • Daimler CVG6 GEA 174 built in 1948. Operational following completion of restoration in 2013.
  • Midland Red BMMO D9 6342 HA built in 1963. Operational following restoration.
  • Guy Motors KTT 689 built in 1948. Operational.
  • West Bromwich Coroporation Dennis E-Type EA 4181. Undergoing repairs.
  • Reo Speedwagon with C14D bodywork MR 3879 built in 1924. Operational.


Trolleybuses[edit]

Walsall Corporation trolleybus 862 at the Black Country Living Museum

The Black Country Living Museum operates a trolleybus service on certain days, unlike the tram which is usually operated seven days a week. The route is one of the few double deck trolley bus services left in the world, as most of the world's trolley buses are single deckers.

The museum's fleet numbers three resident trolleybuses from the Black Country's two former trolley bus networks, and there are also visiting trolleybuses, most of which had some sort of connection with the Black Country. Unlike Birmingham's tram service, Birmingham Corporation Trolley Buses never operated in the Black Country. The Resident Fleet is listed below;

  • Walsall Corporation Transport 862 – A Sunbeam (of Wolverhampton) F4A with a Willowbrook Body, it was built in 1955 and retired from Walsall in 1970 on the closure of the trolleybus network.
  • Wolverhampton Corporation Transport 433 – Another Sunbeam and body work By C. H. Roe, this time a W4 built in 1946 and was retired with the rest of Wolverhampton's trolley buses in 1967.
  • Wolverhampton Corporation Transport 78 – A Guy Built 1931 Trolleybus that still requires restoration.

Motor cars[edit]

Wolverhampton was home to some early manufacturers of motor cars, such as Sunbeam, Clyno, AJS and Star. Frisky cars were also made in Wolverhampton, while the Black Country town of Kingswinford is home to Westfield cars.

The Museum collection includes a 1903 Sunbeam, a 1912 Star and a 1931 AJS as well as examples of later vehicles such as the Kieft, Frisky and Westfield Topaz.

Motor cycles[edit]

There are approximately 40 motor cycles in the Museum's collection, all of which were made in the Black Country. A large proportion were manufactured by Sunbeam and AJS but there are also examples by firms such as Wearwell Cycle Company and Rockson. The Museum is affiliated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust.[39]

Other vehicles[edit]

The Museum does not have an extensive collection of Black Country bicycles, but there are examples by manufacturers such as Harry Albino and Star.

Unusual vehicles in the fleet include a 1924 Guy-Morris fire engine, a Model T Ford van used by Willenhall firm Brevitt's and a Bean of Tipton flat bed truck.

Other collections[edit]

Variety of stone bottles in one of the museum's extensive storerooms

In addition to the wide range of displayed collections, the Museum has extensive research collections held in store. These include historic objects, archival material and library books, all of which can be viewed by appointment.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Additional photos[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Black Country Living Museum, accessed 14 February 2011
  2. ^ Brief History of Tipton, accessed 2 April 2012
  3. ^ Allen, J. S. (1986). The Newcomen Engine. Dudley: Black Country Museum. 
  4. ^ Arts Council England. "Designated status awarded to the collections of BT Archives and Black Country Living Museum". Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Arts Council England. "Designation Scheme". Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Black Country Living Museum. "Collections Homepage". BCLM Website. Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  7. ^ http://www.bclm.co.uk/locations/newcomen-engine/8.htm#.UTzsq1eev4w
  8. ^ English Heritage, "xxxxxxxxx (1021381)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 19 May 2013 .
  9. ^ WrensNest Limestone Works (1404494), PastScape, English Heritage, retrieved 19 May 2013
  10. ^ Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Living Museum Guide, p49
  11. ^ Black Country Living Museum, (undated) Trap Shop Guide Notes
  12. ^ Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Living Museum Guide, p. 49
  13. ^ Black Country Living Museum (undated) Trap Shop Guide Notes
  14. ^ Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Museum Guide, p58
  15. ^ a b Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Living Museum Guide, p58
  16. ^ Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Living Museum Guide, p62
  17. ^ a b Black Country Living Museum (2012) Black Country Living Museum Guide, p60
  18. ^ Black Country Museum (2011). Black Country Living Museum Guide (Reprint ed.). Andover: Pitkin. p. 16. 
  19. ^ Black Country Museum. Designated status awarded to the collections of BT Archives and Black Country Living Museum Black Country Living Museum Guide. Andover: Pitkin. 
  20. ^ Black Country Living Museum. "Interactive Map". Black Country Living Museum. 
  21. ^ Eveleigh, David J. (2011). Town House Architecture. Oxford: Shire. p. 31. 
  22. ^ "Anchor Maker's House". Interactive Map. Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  23. ^ Black Country Living Museum Guide. Black Country Living Museum. 2012. p. 38. ISBN 9780956203120. 
  24. ^ "The Carters Yard". Interactive Map. BCLM. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "St Jame's School". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  26. ^ "Cradley Heath Workers Institute". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  27. ^ "Hobbs and Sons Fish & Chip Shop". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  28. ^ "H. Morrall's Outfitters". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  29. ^ "Humphrey Brothers Builders Merchant". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  30. ^ Jonathan Steffen, ed. (2008). Tomorrow's Answers Today. The history of AkzoNobel since 1646. Amsterdam: Akzo Nobel N.V. p. 282. ISBN 978-90-9022883-9. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  31. ^ "A. Harthill and Sons Motor Cycle Shop". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  32. ^ "A Preedy and Son". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  33. ^ "Revo of Tipton". Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  34. ^ "Gripton's Radio Shop". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  35. ^ "Chainmakers Strike". Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  36. ^ Women Chain Makers Be Anvil or Hammer. Dudley: Black Country Living Museum Trust Limited. 2009. ISBN 978-0-9562031-1-3. 
  37. ^ a b Black Country Living Museum (1991). Guide Book. Pitkin. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-85372-499-5. 
  38. ^ Black Country Living Museum (2012). Black Country Living Museum Guide. Black Country Living Museum. pp. 66/67. ISBN 978-0-9562031-2-0. 
  39. ^ British Motorcycle Charitable Trust. "British Motorcycle Charitable Trust". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 

Coordinates: 52°31′18″N 2°04′36″W / 52.52167°N 2.07667°W / 52.52167; -2.07667