Since having N, I’ve revisited so many of the places we went to as children. My mums used to take us all over the UK visiting different attractions and counties, and I’ve wanted to continue that with N. Not only does it get him away from the farm, learning that there are other options out there. But also for educational reasons. Visiting a historic location will bring history to life much better than reading about it in school.  The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley is a great example of this.

Visiting Black Country Living Museum - Bubbablue and me

N wasn’t keen to visit initially, but once he’s out he’s happy.  Ok, there are some gripes, but give him a snack, the promise of lunch, and a good chat on the journey and he’s in visit mode.  Black Country Living Museum is more than just a museum. You get to speak to people ‘living’ and ‘working’ in the houses and workshops. It paints a picture of what it was really like living in different times.

With Horrible Histories enjoyed in our house, N can also tie in what he watches with speaking to people and what he sees.

Of course, we were there early, just after opening, and being out of season and a cold day, not many people were already there.  The Black Country Living Museum is one of those tourist attractions where you buy a day ticket but get it upgraded to an annual pass.  We rarely re-visit places, but it’s good to know we have it if we want to return.

The map wasn’t that clear, so we just ambled around in the direction we fancied going in.  You can catch the vintage bus around, but we didn’t realise this until we spotted bus stops after we’d already walked a bit. It did mean we covered everything.  It’s easy for buggies and wheelchairs to get around the site – it’s normal roads and paving, although getting inside some of the houses is harder for wheelchairs due to turning space inside, and the width of the doors.  They do have ramps outside many of the houses though to help get up steps if needed.

One of the best bits is being able to go into the mine, but N refused.  We did go in to look at the equipment and clothes on display, but it was a shame he didn’t want to go further. There are tours through the day.

The houses are set up as they would have been in different periods in the area.  Some were lived in until even as late as 1984 – without running water or electricity.  The staff were dressed up, and often doing cooking on the ranges.  N was able to help put some coal on one of them to help which he loved doing.

house at black country living museum

horses at Black Country living museum

old fashioned bedroom at black country living museum

putting coal on the range

 

Each staff member could tell us about the house, the previous occupants, and what jobs they might have done.  N was intrigued to see the outdoor toilets, and the workshops at the end of the gardens.  Oh, and he asked a lot of questions about what was behind various doors in the houses.  Nosy child.

The old school was the most interesting. N was quite happy to try out the benches and do some drawing on the slates.  I don’t think he could grasp that all ages of children learn together. He knew what the cane was though.

writing in school

As well as the houses there was the dockyard and canal boats to look at.  And a pub and a variety of shops, some that were open, others just for show.  Of course N wanted to go into the sweet shop, but decided on a cake at the bakery instead.  The grocers was interesting – it sold pretty much everything, and you could even see through to where they lived behind.  All very different to children who’re used to massive supermarkets and the occasional convenience store.

sweet shop at black country livng museum

playing with ball and cup in shadows

black country living museum shops

canal boat on black country living museum

iron bridge over the canal

inside an old grocery store

church front at black country living museum

blocking the way

peeking out from an old postbox

We were a bit early to eat in the Workers Institute café or Hobbs Fish and Chip shop. Instead we decided to finish off our walk around before getting something in the café at the visitors centre.

vintage bus at black countryliving museum

posing at black country living museum

There’s an old fairground on the other walk round, just past the main bus stop.  It’s all token based if you want a go, but we couldn’t work out whether it was open or not.  One stall was but the rest seemed a bit empty. So I don’t know if that’s a school holiday only activity or all year.  It certainly looked good against the blue sky (I do love a helter skelter standing proud for photos).

Our only disappointment with the visit was the offering at the café at the visitors centre. While I’m sure most people want to eat once they’re in the heart of the museum, some would want to do the café first, or last like we did, especially if the other places are busy.  The fish and chip shop had a sign outside saying from that point the queue would be 30 minutes, so it obviously gets very busy.  The café had drinks, some breakfast type options, crisps, biscuits, and said they could do some toasties or a sandwich for us.  But there was nothing out to choose from so it felt a bit like we were asking for something that wasn’t really available.  We just had a drink each, shared a pack of crisps then left to find somewhere else to eat on the way home.

Otherwise we had a lovely visit.  We learnt lots, enjoyed exploring, and got a bit windswept in the brisk autumn chill.  It’s definitely somewhere we could see us coming back to, especially once N starts learning more about history in the different ages at school.

Do you visit living museums like this? How do your children enjoy them?

Country Kids
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Dudley zoo   world of trains and planes   Avoncroft museum

14 Comments

  1. We love living museums like this, they are so interesting and really good at keeping the kids engaged. It looks like N had a great time, love the photo of him peering out from behind the post box! #countrykids

  2. I haven’t been here since I was a child either. Brings back memories, for some reason my main one is of a chemist shop?! Another for the bucket list #CountryKids

    • That’s the one I remember too. And I kind of remembered it as being circular around a courtyard, but it isn’t. The pharmacy/drugstore was there but was different to how I remember. I suppose all the places I’ve been to as a child all merge into each other.

  3. My kids love this kind of open air, real life museum – we have visited with them the Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland, and we all really enjoyed. This one looks like it would be no exception – what a beautiful place!
    #CountryKids

    • That sounds really interesting. N always has a moan, but then there’s always something that he finds he’s interested in.

  4. mammasschool

    I remember going here as a child and I loved it. It looks just as good now, apart from the food issue, and that you had a great day #countrykids

  5. I think we’d really love this, I love anywhere that gets the kids really understanding our nations history. We went to Blitz Hill near Telford and that was just the best day, Mich x

    • Ah, Blists Hill is on my list of places to take N. It’s a little bit further though so need to try and go with someone else so we get our money’s worth. We never stay long if it’s just us visiting

  6. The black country living museum sounds like a wonderful place to explore with N, I’m always impressed to see how much they have there whenever people visit. I love the idea that you can ride around the site on a vintage bus, I bet that would really help keep the kids interested in what’s going on. It’s great that there’s so many hands on activities for the kids too, perfect for learning about how life would’ve been throughout the years.

    Thanks for sharing with me on #CountryKids/

  7. The Black Country Living Museum is such an interesting place to visit. We went there last year. Love the fact that you get an annual pass with the day ticket. We live too far away to take advantage but it’s great if you live closer. It’s a great place for helping make history come alive. N looks like he really enjoyed the day out. I agree with you on the food front though – it was very limited and it’s a shame that there aren’t more facilities available especially as the chip shop gets so busy. There was a cafe across the canal where the Dudley Canal Tunnel boat trip goes from though which is where we ended up getting something to eat when we visited. Might be useful to know for next time #countrykids

    • I love the annual passes too, but we rarely go back to places. And I never know where I put them. It would be nice to get them emailed so we can have them on our phones

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