Building move turns a new page in its history

Work to move a former Dudley borough library to the Black Country Living Museum, is well underway.

Woodside Library, which currently stands on Stourbridge Road in Holly Hall, is being carefully dismantled with support from Dudley Council.

The library will be rebuilt brick-by-brick to become a dramatic centrepiece of the heritage attraction’s new 1940s-1960s Black Country town, part of the museum’s major capital development Forging Ahead. Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member elect for regeneration and enterprise, said:

"There is fantastic regeneration work happening all over Dudley and the latest developments at the Black Country Living Museum are hugely exciting.

"Woodside is an important building with lots of history behind it and I am glad it is being kept in the borough for future generations to see."

Andrew Lovett, Chief Executive Officer at the Black Country Living Museum added:

"We are so proud to be able to give Woodside Library a new home as an integral part of our new capital development, BCLM: Forging Ahead. The project is now more important than ever to the future of Black Country Living Museum.

"The Library will be set in the 1960s when it was an important community hub – a time when its well-known children’s library was to the fore and when the dances held on its first-floor room were some of the most notable occasions in Dudley’s social calendar. We’re aiming to depict a genuine slice of Black Country life from the period with this much-loved building."

Woodside Free Library, on Stourbridge Road, Holly Hall, opened in 1894. The Earl of Dudley offered the land for the library and Woodside Park in 1890, land which was previously part of the Earl’s large Woodside Colliery. On the day of the opening ceremony, the Earl and Countess of Dudley were escorted by the Worcestershire Hussars with a procession by carriage from Dudley Town Hall, to Netherton, and on to Woodside.

Woodside Library featured a Reading Room and Lending Library on the ground floor, and Recreation and Retiring Rooms on the first. The upstairs rooms were also used for a variety of local clubs and, most famously, dances led by local compere Horace Robinson.

After World War Two, the library service began to expand, with Woodside incorporating both a children’s library and gramophone record library. It was renovated in the early 1970s to brighten it up and continued in use until 2008.

People can find out more about the project on Black Country Living Museum's website.


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