Unless you’re from the Midlands and you know what the Black Country is you must be thinking it’s some strange far far away place. All the counties in England are called Lancashire or Norfolk, Sussex, Cambridgeshire. The cities are given – Blackpool, Manchester, Portsmouth, Birmingham. None of them sound too odd, just what you’re used to. And then there’s this thing called the Black Country.
What is the Black Country?
The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands, just west off Birmingham, which covers just a handful different boroughs. All these have one thing in common – their intense, world-changing charming history. This is the very place where the Industrial Revolution began back at the end of 18th century. It’s an area famous for smoke puffing iron foundries, screeching steel mills, pitch black coal mines that on for miles and miles and until today many, many businesses in the Black Country still hold the industrial flag up high, producing metals and manufacturing engineering parts. And why is the Black Country? Because of the ever-present black coal dust & smoke coming from the foundries staining people’s skin charcoal black.
I ain’t really here to give you a history lesson (although I have given you a little tidbit right here!). I’m writing about the Black Country because that’s where I live. That’s where I’ve lived for almost 5 years now and when you live somewhere for this long you pick up on the stories, the people and even the (in this case very unforgiving) accent.
The Living Museum in Dudley
Our favourite place to re-live the old-school industrial Black Country is the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. It’s essentially a little enclosed town of the Black Country back at the beginning of the 19th century. It’s got everything a real town would have – people dressed in button up tweed suits with Peaky Blinders flat caps, their little cosy shops, an actual dark & damp coal mine, vintage red trams to ride, a fairy tale mirror maze to explore and proper old fashioned chips made in beef drippings to stuff your belly with. It’s such an enchanting little town to explore on a day out in any weather! We went on a gloomy rainy day and had a mug of the most delicious mulled wine in front of a glowing fire place, went into a dark dank coal mine and joined a spelling lesson at a local school! The best part though it chatting to all the town characters – from an old nana knitting in front of a wood fire stove to a farmer serving his piglets a mid-day feast.
If you’re ever around and have time to spare, I urge you to pop to the Black Country Living Museum for a couple of hours. It’ll help you appreciate the area, the people, and even the food so much more knowing all these little secrets of the BC’s history.
To learn more about the BC Living Museum and all their events click here.