On arrival at the carpark we found many people also turning up, some including coaches. Within the main entrance building there was a long queue in the booking hall and in all we had to queue for around 30 minutes. We decided it would be better value to turn our entrance tickets into yearly membership which means we can return as many times as we like over the next twelve months without having to pay entrance fees or car parking (an additional £3. This is fair enough, but I do think if you're paying for entrance and you arrive by car you shouldn't have to pay this. As a charity I can understand they have to raise cash somehow, but this does seem a bit unfair.) You got a metal token which you use to raise the barrier when you drive out of the carpark.
Once within the museum site we discovered that it was a fair walk down into the main part of the museum site. Several vintage vehicles, including a red bus, a trolley bus and tram, could be used to convey you to the main town further down the hill. We decided to walk. Probably not such a good idea as it was quite tiring. Rough cinder on the paths really hurt our feet. Never mind.
There are many reconstructed buildings on the site of The Black Country Living Museum. Carefully demolished in their original location and then transported to the site and then reconstructed and fitted out with furniture and everything inside to fit the correct time frame in which they were originally built, giving a sort of snapshot of their historic context. They are all from the area around Dudley, which is known as The Black Country. Due to the soot and smoke produced by the industries in the area.
The first building we visited was a cast iron house. Quite amazing to think that at one time they constructed houses from cast iron. What about rusting? Did they stay warm in winter and cool in summer? If you lived in one could you hang wallpaper? Were they safe if you had electricity? I'm thinking about earthing the power supply. It does make me wonder. We walked on down towards the town area, past a mine. You could go inside but there was a long queue which put us off. I'm not to keen on being in an enclosed space such as a mine or a cave so it wasn't something I'd want to experience and certainly not if it was a small space and you had to go down and underground. We walked on and got to the period fairground. There's a heater skelter as well as a wide range of stalls. You have to pay to go on any of the rides or exhibits. We bought burgers from a stall around here and sat on benches near the canal and ate them. We had intended buying fish and chips from the shop which was part of the period shops, but when we saw the queue of people outside we decided against the idea. This queue was moving extremely slow and it seemed to take perhaps 20 minutes to reach the shop. A pity, because from what we saw of the actual fish and chips that people were carrying away it looked very appetising and the portions looked large. There is a period garage along with some period vehicles in the area near the fairground. We didn't visit.
We went inside the school. Period lessons were held at regular intervals during the day, but we weren't there at the time it said on the sign inside the building. Pity, because, as Carol is a teacher herself she would have been interested to see how the style of teaching had changed over the years. We went into several of the houses to view the interiors and in some we were surprised at the size of the rooms. Very small and cramped. If they had several children it makes you wonder how they coped.
We watched as someone demonstrated making nails and another man showed how chain was forged. There was a cinema, which apparently had been built in a private back garden in a house somewhere around the Dudley area. We sat and watched a silent Laurel and Hardy film. I was surprised how some people laughed whilst others didn't respond at all. (How do modern day children respond to the antics of these two? I've always enjoyed their films and have only recently bought a 20 DVD collection of all their short films. £35 on Amazon, but it was £200 when the set first came out. We saw if for around £50 a few years ago in H.H.V. in Milton Keynes, so at that price it was good value.)
Out in the street children were playing with hoops. Rolling them along the cobbles with sticks. Great to see modern children doing something that is 'real' and not computer-related. So many people walk around with their mobile phones stuck to their ears or peering at the screens and seem so disconnected with the 'real' world. It makes you wonder how they would cope if these gadgets were taken off them. They don't seem to be engaged with what's going on around them. It's the same when we've visited either Whipsnade Zoo or Twycross Zoo. People are so busy taking 'selfies' of themselves, slap-bang in front of some of the animal enclosures. They seem more interested in themselves than in looking at the animals. Similar at this museum.
Wandered in and out of more of the buildings, including an ironmonger's, tobacconist, baker's and several more and then a church.
So we went back to the bus stop. We had to wait a good twenty minutes, but it was actually quite nice to sit down and relax for a while. We eventually caught the bus and arrived back at the top of the hill where we'd entered the museum. We had a look at some vintage vehicles in a garage and then went inside the visitor's centre, had a cup of tea and a pastry and bought a guidebook and by then we'd decided we'd seen all we wanted to see and returned to our car to drive home.
We did follow the SatNav's direction. It is generally very good, but for some reason it took us into central Birmingham instead of navigating us back home the way we'd come, which was odd. So it took a good 30 minutes longer than it should have done. Don't always follow the SatNav we've learned. All together it was a very enjoyable day out and we'll be returning sometime again in the Spring now we have a year's membership of this particular museum.