Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has given approval for the latest phase of a multi-million pound transformation of the Black Country Living Museum, an award-winning outdoor museum of Black Country heritage.
The full scheme entitled ‘BCLM: Forging Ahead’ will see the attraction expand by a third of its current size in a £23m development, aiming to boost visitor numbers by 5000 a day and bring an extra 450 jobs to the region. Due to complete by 2022, this will include relocating a number of key Black Country buildings to the site, including Wolverhampton’s former Elephant & Castle pub, where Jamaican, South Asian and Irish workers used to meet, drink and play dominoes. The project will bring the timescale covered by the experience up to 1968 and the closure of the Baggeridge Coal Mine.
The latest phase to be signed off by the council is the development of the Rolfe Street entrance building into a learning and visitor centre. An amazing 90,000 school children visit the BCLM every year and the planning document states the museum’s aspiration to “revitalise the existing Learning Centre, enabling it to work successfully in providing learning and conference facilities”. Designed by Napier Clarke Architects, the renovation of the centre will enhance the building while being mindful of its existing architecture and aims to create a facility that can deliver activities for up to 850 children every day.
The project has also secured a cash boost of £9.4m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which will enable work to start this summer. ‘BCMG: Forging Ahead’ is phase one of a 40-year masterplan for the Black Country Living Museum, which was first established in 1978 and is now spread across 26 acres. It is one of the UK’s leading open air museums where visitors can enjoy tram rides, attend historical school lessons, watch silent films and experience a wide variety of buildings from the Black Country’s industrial past.
Think Sandwell is very proud of its Black Country base and wishes the museum all the best for its ongoing plans to celebrate our heritage and attract visitors to the region. To find out how we can support development plans for your business, visit our property and planning pages.