Forging Ahead: Cast Iron Houses

We are  seeking information about the families that lived in Dudley’s only cast iron houses during the 1950s.

What we need & how to contact us

Cast iron house

Originally situated in Ernest Road and Birmingham Road, two of the houses were moved to the Museum and rebuilt in the early 90s.

As part of our BCLM: Forging Ahead development project, we will be taking down our Cast Iron Houses, panel by panel, and relocating them within our new 1940s-60s town which is due to open in 2022.

We are keen to hear from anyone who has a connection to either set of cast iron houses. We already have some information about the Vernon and Barnsdall families that lived in two of the houses but we are 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. Please contact us with any information via:

  • Tel: 0121 557 9643
  • Email: [email protected] 
  • Post address: Collections Team, Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ 

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 Tipton, 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.

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.