BCLM: Forging Ahead

Taking our story into the 1940s, 50s and 60s

real things, real people, real stories

BCLM: Forging Ahead will include new learning spaces and a brand new visitor welcome centre, taking our story up to the closure of the Baggeridge Coal Mine in 1968 which brought about the end of a unique era for the Black Country.

This exciting project will use real things, real people and real stories to engage and inspire visitors, of all ages, to learn about the Black Country’s heritage, its impact on the world and its relevance today.

Our plans

Our vision to create a world class heritage attraction in the heart of the Black Country.

A man on a canal barge at black country living museum

The story so far

The identity of the Black Country is based on the former richness of its coal measures, of its iron working and the impact that these and related industries had on the landscape and the people that lived in it.

It is a powerful story – distinctive because of the scale, drama, intensity and multiplicity of the industrial might that was unleashed. Arguably this is the place where the impact of the Industrial Revolution was greatest.

Today, the Black Country is described as the Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton, recognised as a distinctive region by the Ordnance Survey in 2009 and home to 1.2 million people. While modern day high-technology has replaced heavy industry, manufacturing still remains a vital and central part of the Black Country economy and community.

Our Museum

With extraordinary Designated collections, the Museum is a unique, 26-acre real-life setting for telling stories. Open-air museums like ours don’t create galleries and exhibition halls with cases and labels; they build landscapes, workshops, alleyways, backyards and streets, where things happen.

Visitors are welcomed and immersed in an environment where they can see, smell, hear, touch and taste history; living interpretation and working demonstrations enable people of all ages and backgrounds to truly understand how the Black Country played a central and formative role in the creation of the connected, industrialised world we recognise today.

Following our 40th anniversary in 2018, this endorsement of our BCLM: Forging Ahead project by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, means that we are now able to complete the Museum’s story and enable a greater number and a wider variety of people to understand the true significance of the Black Country. 

get involved

We are looking for your help to complete the Museum’s story. Whether it be through volunteering, donating an object or sharing your stories.

We are looking for memories between 1940s-60s for the following buildings:

These buildings have so many stories to tell, so if you or anyone you know remembers them during this period, please get in touch via 0121 557 9643, or email us: [email protected].

Since we opened in 1978, we have collected over 80,000 items, ranging from the 1850s to the 1940s.

As we embark on our major development project BCLM: Forging Ahead, we’re now looking to collect items up to the 1960s. We’re particularly interested in items which:

  • Have a strong connection with the Black Country
  • Are underrepresented in other local museums
  • Fill a gap in our existing collections

If you think you have an item dating from the 1940s-60s that might be suitable to our new development, first of all, please read the collecting guidelines and, if you feel it meets the criteria, get in touch to arrange an appointment with us – details below.

To arrange an appointment please telephone Collections on 0121 557 9643 or email [email protected].

We are proud to be an independent, educational charity. However, this means that we have to raise nearly all of our funding requirements through admission fees, our shops and cafes and generous donations from our visitors and supporters.

To allow us to continue to preserve Black Country history and bring it to life for generations to come, we need your support. If you would like to donate to the Museum, please click here.

Do you have a passion for the Black Country? We’re looking for friendly folk to join our team. 

We offer training, ongoing support and the opportunity to experience time in one of the premier museums in the country.

View our current and new opportunities.

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