Exploring the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Tunnel

One of our favourite places for a day out is Chiltern Open Air Museum, which is fairly close to where we live.  I love the feel of stepping back in time and seeing how people lived and worked. The Black Country Living Museum therefore sounded like the perfect place for a family day out during our recent weekend away in Birmingham.


One of the shops in the Black Country Living Museum


We started off with a trip on the trolley bus to take us into the recreated village in the museum.  The girls found the conductor on the bus fascinating. He spent some time explaining his role to them, telling them how he was responsible for looking after the passengers on the bus and helping them get on and off at the right stop.  We decided that our first stop would be the fairground.


The fairground rides were still closed when we arrived but gradually opened up.  We needed to buy tokens to go on the rides. The tokens cost £1.50 each. There were only a couple of rides that were suitable for the girls though – the roundabout which cost 1 token each and the junior swing boats which were 1 token per boat.


Sophie riding a bus on the roundabout


While the girls both enjoyed going on the roundabout, it was the swing boats that were the big hit. We spent a long time with Daddy pushing them both on the boat with squeals to go “higher, higher!” – a bit too high for Mummy’s comfort levels I have to say, but they loved it!


Jessica and Sophie on the junior swing boats


The shops in the village were quite busy and there were some very long queues.  Thankfully the queue for the sweet shop wasn’t too long though. We couldn’t resist buying some aniseed balls and barley twists.  The fish n chip shop looked tempting but the queue was huge. We went to look around the school instead.  There were no lessons taking place as it was lunchtime. The girls were quite happy to stop for a moment though and do some drawing at the desks.


Jessica and Sophie sitting at a desk in the school


Beyond the village there was an exit towards the Dudley canal where we could book a boat trip through the Dudley tunnel. As both hubby and I used to love travelling along the canals on narrowboat holidays, we couldn’t resist the opportunity for a boat trip.  While waiting for the boat trip, I had a go at finding out what legging a boat through the tunnel was like. As it turned out, I could have tried it for real on the boat trip but decided not to volunteer for that one.


Hubby and the girls sitting on the boat ready to go into the Dudley tunnel


We donned hard hats for the boat trip. These were a bit big for the girls although Sophie needed a bit of encouragement to keep hers on! The girls quite enjoyed their boat trip into the tunnel and looking at some of the caverns. We learned about the sea creatures that were here millions of years ago. Dudley was surrounded by warm tropical sea back then. The coal that formed in the area along with limestone was a key part of the its importance during the Industrial Revolution.


top - one of the caverns in the Dudley tunnel; middle left - Sophie with her hard hat; middle right - Jessica and hubby on the boat; bottom - two men 'legging' the boat through the tunnel

After our boat trip, we returned to the museum to look at some of the back to back houses and have a wander around the canal. We spent a few moments watching a chain-making demonstration nearby. The girls were starting to get a bit restless and hungry though. Fortunately the queue in the fish ‘n’ chip shop was now much shorter.


Jessica and Sophie by an old-fashioned canal boat


We timed our stop at the chippy perfectly. The heavens opened just after we reached it. Although the girls had their waterproof coats on, hubby and I had left ours in the car. It was a good time to sit indoors and enjoy our fish and chips while waiting for the rain to stop.



Hubby and Jessica walking through the village at the Black Country Living Museum


Jessica would have liked to return to the funfair but it was getting towards closing time. With further downpours threatening we decided to make our way back up the hill. We took a quick look in the entrance to the mine on our way back. The girls also spotted some pigs in one of the garden and stopped for a moment to say hello.


It was a shame we hadn’t been better prepared for the weather. There were a few areas of the museum that we didn’t get to explore as a result. We all enjoyed our day out and its somewhere that we would enjoy visiting again if we lived closer!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

29 thoughts on “Exploring the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Tunnel

  1. Visiting places like this really brings history to live and puts it in context. It looks a great place to spend the day. The tunnel trip looks amazing. What a fun way to show it. I hope you make it back one day. #CountryKids

  2. I love the look of this museum. It looks a perfect way to appreciate history in the local area and sounds like there was plenty there to make it really appealing to a wide range of ages. I would have loved the history, and the boat trip down into the caverns and my kids would of course have enjoyed the fun fair. What a lovely day out even if you did forget your rain coats. I rather fancy fish ‘n’ chips now too!

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. Thanks Fiona – there was certainly plenty to keep the girls interested although they are generally just happy to explore anyway. The boat trip was definitely a highlight of the day! Thank you for hosting #CountryKids, always a pleasure to link up 🙂

  3. I love this post!!! The Black Country Museum is not far away from where my husband and I both grew up, but since moving away from the area we haven’t been back to the museum. I must take our girls there – and I loved reading how much yours enjoyed it. It is such a great place isn’t it. The fairground and the fish and chip shop were always my favourite parts!!

    1. Aww so glad that my post has brought back some memories for you – hope you manage to take your girls there and make some new ones 🙂

    1. Open air museums are great- such a great way of stepping back in time whilst getting to explore outdoors too 🙂

  4. What a jam packed day you had.I would love to go on the canal boat, I have fond memories of holidays on them.

    1. The canal boat was my favourite part – we’ve had some lovely holidays on the canals too 🙂

  5. We’ve driven past this museum a couple of times, and I’ve told my husband that I think the boys would like it, but we’ve never actually made it there. It sounds a little like Beamish which we all loved. I’ll have to add it to the list! #CountryKids

    1. It’s been a long time since I visited Beamish but from what I remember of it, the two are very similar. If you liked Beamish, you’ll enjoy this too 🙂

  6. I haven’t been since I was a child, and would love to take N. With real people he can’t complain about being scared of models!

    1. I don’t remember any models in the museum although there were some in the caverns in the canal tunnel.

  7. I went there a couple of times on school trips back in the day. I love that period of history so found it interesting, although we went down the mine and it terrified me! I would love to go back one day.

    1. Most of the day was fine – just a lot of rain for the last hour or so. There’s a lot more to see here that at Chiltern Open Air Museum and it’s a great day out, although overall I think I prefer the rural setting at COAM.

  8. This looks like such a fun day out! We don’t live too far from Dudley, so definitely something we’ll try when my girls are a little bigger, I think. Thanks so much for sharing, the caverns look like fab fun! #CountryKids

  9. I love places like this it looks amazing. It seems to be a bit like Beamish in the north from what I can tell? I have never heard of this one but it is certainly significantly closer than Beamish! Justin visited Beamish in an episode of Something Special and my girl was fascinated by it, so I think she would love this! #CountryKids

    1. It’s been a long time since I last visited Beamish but from what I remember of it, the two are very similar.

  10. Now that brings back memories for me. I’m sure I visited when I was at school. Lovely to read that it’s still there and you enjoyed your visit. #CountryKids

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.