Black Country Living Museum set for major expansion. Lottery funding plus Peaky Blinders’ fame is helping create ‘one of the most impressive museums in Europe’.
The Black Country Living Museum has secured £9.8 million in National Lottery funding towards its £23 million expansion plans. An entire new town is planned to open by the spring of 2022. A new visitor centre and car park is slated to open a year earlier.
Earlier this year the highly immersive attraction agreed a land swap deal with the local council as part of its expansion.
“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,” says Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. “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.”
A new visitor centre will provide a new entrance for up to 5,000 people per day. “We are progressing with plans for the historic town and visitor centre,” says the museum’s chief executive Andrew Lovett. “On the back of rising visitor numbers this is a very exciting time for the museum.”
332,778 people visited the Black Country Living Museum last year, up more than a third from 2013. The turnaround is inevitably linked to the museum’s links with Peaky Blinders.
The official home of Peaky Blinders
“We are also getting attention from across the world with the filming of Peaky Blinders,” says Lovett. The museum is the ‘official home of Peaky Blinders’ and many scenes from the cult TV series have been filmed at the village. The Anchor Forge, Boat Dock and Rolling Mill have all featured, as has Canal Street Bridge, the Blacksmith’s, the Workers’ Institute, St James’ school and the back alleys.
New plans for the historic town
Architects are continuing to work on precise expansion plans. However the buildings and their locations have been chosen and will reflect life in the region from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Market Place and Pinfold Lane, next to the fairground, will be the major focus. The museum has acquired bricks for one of the buildings from West Bromwich’s Gas Showroom in the High Street. Woodside Library in Dudley, built in 1894, but closed in 2008, will be pulled down and rebuilt, as will the J H Lavender Aluminium Foundry in Crankhall Lane. Further recreations include the Harris & Pearson Brickworks in Brierley Hill and Wolverhampton’s Elephant and Castle pub.
The Lea Road Medical Centre in Wolverhampton and Stanton’s Records from Hall Street, Dudley will also be recreated. Further buildings are still standing but will be replicated at the museum, including a newsagent’s, a ladies’ dress shop, a butchers’, hairdressers and a building society branch.
“We will never stand still and we will look to improve the attraction whenever we can,” concludes Lovett. “Our aim is to become one of the most impressive museums in Europe.”