Black Country Living Museum's major development plans are forging ahead

Bosses at Black Country Living Museum are celebrating after receiving the final go ahead to begin its transformational £23m development project ‘BCLM: Forging Ahead’ in the Summer.

The news comes after confirmation of £9.4 million of funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund, alongside existing funding from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Arts Council England.

‘BCLM: Forging Ahead’ will bring to life currently untold stories of social, cultural, commercial and industrial life in the Black Country during the 1940s-60s. The project will enable the Museum to celebrate the diverse yet shared heritage of the communities of the area, and will see items from its unique collection displayed in their original home for the first time, such as 1950s hairdressing items, butcher’s equipment and gas cookers.

The Museum’s industrious project will see an entire historic town built within its grounds, recreating landmarks of the Black Country and providing a snapshot of what life was like in the 1940s-60s. Several buildings that were of great significance to the local community, will be recreated or replicated using archive material and historic photographs, whilst others will be translocated brick-by-brick to the their new home at the Museum.

The Elephant & Castle public house that stood in Wolverhampton is one such building being recreated for the project. Controversially demolished in 2001, the pub will be painstakingly rebuilt as it was in its heyday, including the distinct green ceramic brickwork on its outside walls. Whilst photographs of the exterior can help to recreate its Edwardian façade, a donated ceramic model of the pub has also meant that accurate designs could be produced for the rear of the building where photographic evidence doesn’t exist.

The pub was a watering hole for customers of all backgrounds in the 1960s - Irish, Jamaican and South Asian workers met, drank and played dominoes together. As part of the project, BCLM will bring to life the stories of the workers who gathered in the pub after their shifts.

Some 500,000 visitors per year will be able to discover several under-explored themes including how globalisation impacted trade and industry; the origins of the region’s richly diverse population; the rise of the teenager; the changing role of women; and the birth of the NHS, thanks to the new historic town.

‘BCLM: Forging Ahead’ will also see the building of a brand-new visitor centre that will feature an introductory exhibition, café and shop in juxtaposition to the historic site. A dedicated learning centre will be created, where activities to over 85,000 school visitors per year will be delivered, ranging from story-telling for pre-schoolers to practical, hands-on immersive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths) activities such as Computer Aided Design & Manufacture for older pupils. Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Whilst the Forging Ahead project will recreate and translocate a number of buildings of historical significance to the Black Country, heritage is not just about bricks and mortar, but the stories that are created within them.

"We are delighted that National Lottery funding will not only preserve these fascinating buildings, such as the Gas Showroom, the Elephant & Castle pub and the Library, but also the memories that they hold, and ensure that they will not be lost but shared and built upon by future generations.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands added:

“The Forging Ahead project highlights the Museum’s ambition to create a real jewel in the crown in the Black Country. Once complete, this project will create opportunities for new jobs, volunteering and skills development during what is an economic renaissance for the region.

"The Black Country has an incredibly rich heritage and it is great the Museum portrays it so well.”

‘BCLM: Forging Ahead’ will commence in summer 2019, and will be completed in 2022. To find out how you can get involved visit


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