Museum seeks memories of cast iron house families from the 1950s

Black Country Living Museum is seeking information about the families that lived in Dudley’s only Cast Iron Houses during the 1950s.

As part of its ambitious new development project, BCLM: Forging Ahead, the museum will be taking down its cast iron houses, panel by panel, and relocating them within its new 1940s-60s town which is due to open in 2022.

Once relocated, one of the houses will be set in the 1950s, which will see the Museum recreate rooms and tell stories about family life in the post-war, post-austerity era. The other semi-detached property will remain as a 1940s setting.

Two sets of cast iron semi-detached houses were originally built as council housing during the 1920s in Birmingham Road and Ernest Road near Kates Hill and Burnt Tree. They were built in response to an acute shortage of housing at the end of the First World War. Due to a shortage of labour and building materials following the war, Dudley Council tested cast iron construction using square panels, made by the Eclipse Foundry in Dudley, which were then bolted together.

The houses were found to be more expensive to construct than those made of brick meaning that only two pairs were built. The houses were occupied until 1987 when they were declared unfit for habitation. Two of the houses were taken down and moved to Black Country Living Museum during 1989 before being rebuilt in the early 90s.

Black Country Living Museum has been carrying out research into the properties but is keen to hear from anyone who has a connection to either set of semi-detached houses. The Museum already has some information on the Vernon and Barnsdall families that lived in two of the houses but is keen to hear other memories that people may have.

Other families that were connected to the houses include; the Bimsons, including Robert Bimson, a storekeeper at the Vono Company, Dudley Port in 1939; the Harleys who ran a butcher’s shop in Dudley Arcade; and the Simons family, including Robert, a head postmaster at Dudley Post Office in 1939.

The Museum is seeking more information about all of these families along with details of any other families that lived in the houses during the 1950s.

Anyone that is connected to one of these Dudley Cast Iron Houses or knew the people that lived there in the 1950s is encouraged to get in touch with the Museum’s Collections Team by emailing collections@bclm.comor calling 0121 557 9643.

For more information about BCLM: Forging Ahead, please visit


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