Recreated high street shops open at museum

Visitors can explore three new shops set in the 1940s and 1960s at Dudley’s Black Country Living Museum, including a recreation of an iconic Stourbridge military surplus store run by a former German prisoner of war.

The open-air museum, which shares stories through living interpretation and immersive experiences, invites visitors to shop for a post-war recipe as they browse the shelves in Halesowen and Hasbury Co-op, send themselves a postcard in Spring Hill Post Office and try on replica military wear in Langer’s Army & Navy Stores.

Carol King, Director of Content, said:

“Step into our 1940s-1960s high street and you’re not just visiting history – you’re living it. From the shelves of the Co-op to the counter of the post office, every detail tells a story of resilience, innovation and community spirit that defined the Black Country.

“This isn’t just about preserving the past; it’s about bringing it to life for new generations to experience and understand.”

Each business represents different areas of the Black Country and have been brought to life with invaluable support from the Black Country community, who have shared memories and donated items, from Airfix models and birthday cards to motorcycle helmets and rucksacks.

Visitors will meet the eponymous Herbert Langer of Langer’s Army & Navy Stores, a former German prisoner of war who established his military surplus store in Stourbridge in the 1950s after settling in the Black Country.

Herbert’s family, including son Steve Langer, have been instrumental in ensuring that the Museum – and the staff members portraying Herbert – are doing him proud.

Steve commented:

“My dad would have been so emotional and overwhelmed that someone thought that much of him to do something like this and recreate something that was his life and that he loved… It feels like my dad’s shop. It feels like coming home.”

Stan Nettleton, whose family ran Penn’s Spring Hill Post Office for 40 years, has also been remembered through living interpretation. Visitors can find out about more the shop and why it diversified to be more than a post office, stocking toys, models and greeting cards, among other things.

While Langer’s Army & Navy Stores and Spring Hill Post Office are open now, Halesowen and Hasbury Co-op will open on Thursday 4 July, in time for International Day of Co-operatives on Saturday 6 July.

The shop, set in 1949, is packed full of reproduced packaging sporting Co-op’s iconic branding, including ‘nourishing, appetising and easily digested’ cornflakes and ‘puppy biscuits’ suitable for all breeds that are ‘invaluable as a staple diet for the small dog’.

A historic character portrays Herbert Langer of Langer’s Army & Navy Stores.

‘George’, a historic character in Halesowen & Hasbury Co-op.

‘Winnie’, a historic character Spring Hill Post Office, gets stock ready.