Black Country Living Museum secures funding for expansion

Museum bosses are celebrating after securing £9.8m of Lottery funding towards their £21.7m project; 'Forging Ahead', which will see the Museum expand by a third.

This endorsement from the Heritage Lottery Fund means staff have the go-ahead to begin detailed planning and research for the creation of a new major historic 1940s-1960s development, new learning spaces and improved visitor facilities to help tell the story of the Black Country up to the closure of the Baggeridge Coal Mine in 1968.

'BCLM: Forging Ahead' is part of the museum's 10-year vision to create a world class heritage attraction in the heart of the Black Country. This exciting project will use real things, real people and real stories to engage and inspire visitors, of all ages, to learn about the Black Country’s heritage, its impact on the world and its relevance today. 

By 2022, the Tipton Road attraction plans to welcome 500,000 visitors a year, 200,000 more than at present, and create 60 new jobs and 35 apprenticeships. 

Continuing its 38-year tradition of saving local buildings of historic interest, planners have identified a number of structures from across the region that they want to translocate, recreate or replicate here at the Museum.

An artists impression of part of the new development

Those identified buildings to be moved to the Museum 'brick by brick', include; West Bromwich Gas Showroom, Woodside Library in Dudley and William Griffin & Sons Proving House in Cradley Heath.

To save the heritage of lost buildings, plans would see a handful of those which are no longer standing being recreated at the museum site using archival material and images. These include; Harris & Pearson Brickworks (Brierley Hill), the Elephant & Castle Pub (Wolverhampton), an NHS Clinic (Darlaston) and Stanton’s Records (Hall Street, Dudley).

Finally, to showcase the significant social and cultural changes in post-war Britain, bosses will replicate buildings that still exist, but which have no possibility of translocating to the museum. Burgin’s Newsagents (Wolverhampton Street, Dudley), Marsh & Baxter’s Pork Butchers (Lye), Laurie Thomas Hairdressers (Tipton) and a West Bromwich Building Society Branch (Cape Hill, Smethwick) will all be replicated by hand.

All of these developments will represent what it was like to live and work in the Black Country in the 1940s-60s, and they’ll preserve this important period of history for generations to come. Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

"Black Country Living Museum is a world-class attraction that tells the story of the region’s history and provides a real boost to the local economy. 

"This exciting project, backed by £9.8m funding from National Lottery players, will help the museum reflect an important time in the area’s past and preserve its historic buildings for the future.” 

Burgin's newsagents in Dudley pictured in 1908 and just after its closure in 2016 - after 148 years of serving the Black Country.
The shop would be rebuilt at the museum site under current plans.

In order to accommodate up to 500,000 visitors per year, a brand new contemporary Visitor Centre including new retail and catering facilities will provide a juxtaposition against the historic site. It will also see the museum 'turn its face' to Castle Hill and reposition the car park to create a world class visitor welcome. 

In doing so, we will capitalise on the recent £10m investment in Castle Hill to create a cultural destination capable of attracting one million visitors per year, thus stimulating the local economy. Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, added:

“I have been hugely impressed by the Black Country Living Museum’s ambitious proposals to build on what is already regarded as one of the UK’s top attractions of its type.

 "This funding will be a huge boost for these future plans as they work towards an annual target of half a million visitors, which will be supported by the arrival of the Midland Metro in the coming years.

"The museum and this project are not just a vital part of the tourism offer for the region, bringing people to the region and supporting the economy. The museum also plays a huge part in preserving and showcasing the unique cultural heritage of the Black Country and the new project will underpin that”

Refurbishments will also see a new contemporary Learning Centre and complementary Industrial Learning Space created  to significantly enhance inspirational learning activities for 80,000 school children each year. The existing Rolfe Street Entrance Building will be repurposed and refurbished as a Learning Centre providing a fit-for-purpose facility for educational visits.

The planned translocation of the William Griffin & Sons Proving House, from Woods Lane in Cradley Heath, will create a learning facility in the heart of the historic site. This interactive industrial learning and demonstration space will be suitable for large groups of school children.

In October 2018, the museum will submit a second-round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to unlock the rest of this funding so that building can begin, with a view to completing it in 2022.

To find out how you can get involved, visit


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