WORK will start this month on a £30m expansion at the Black Country Living Museum which will see the creation of a 1940s-60s town and a new visitors' centre. 

More than 20 new historic buildings and structures will be added to the site in the first phase, including the brick-by-brick relocation of Woodside Library with help from Dudley Council.

A new visitors' centre, NHS clinic, record shop, barbers and pub will also form part of the new development, which is called BCLM: Forging Ahead and is the the largest project in the museum's history.

It is hoped that the new 1940s to 60s historic town and industrial quarter will be open to welcome visitors in 2023.

The development will expand the museum’s footprint by about a third and increase its capacity to welcome around 500,000 visitors per year by 2026.

Around 140 jobs will be created.

Dudley News:

Andrew Lovett, BCLM Chief Executive said: “As the biggest single development in our 43-year history, Forging Ahead gives us the momentum to thrive once again for our community following the unprecedented difficulties presented by the pandemic.

"Forging Ahead is not just about exploring the past, it’s also about making a positive difference to the future of this community too.

"The project will help to create more than 140 new jobs in the local area and, by 2032, contribute an extra £102.5m of economic benefit.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader Dudley Council, said: "This is fantastic news and a really exciting new development for what is already a top-class visitor attraction.

"It’s been well documented that the pandemic and lockdowns have hit our tourist attractions hard, but its great to see one of the biggest outlining plans to come out the other side bigger and better with plans to welcome even more visitors to the borough in the future.

"Along with the new Metro line, VLR, the bus interchange and plans for a university park, the future is looking very bright for the borough."

Dudley News:

Twenty-two historic buildings and structures will be constructed.

There will be a brand-new visitor centre and learning spaces, plus an industrial quarter – which will showcase Black Country industry at the height of its post-war manufacturing prowess.

The centrepiece of the project is the 1940s-60s town, which will herald the social and political changes experienced by the Black Country during one of the most dynamic times in its history.

The 1940s-60s town will include an NHS clinic, a record shop, a barber’s, and Co-operative supermarket, and will create an immersive experience of everyday life during the period.

Two of the most notable buildings to feature in the town are Woodside Library from Holly Hall in Dudley and the Elephant & Castle pub that once dominated the corner of Stafford Street and the Cannock Road in Wolverhampton.

The Library will be translocated brick-by-brick to its new home at the Museum and, using detailed archival research, the Pub will be re-created within the new historic town at BCLM so that it can grace a Black Country skyline once more.

With major investment in place from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the project was originally due to commence early in 2020, but was delayed due to Coronavirus.

Funds have come from the Department of Culture Media and Sport’s Capital Kickstart Fund via the Culture Recovery Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, amongst others.

Support from the Capital Kickstart Fund as part of the Culture Recovery Fund means that works disrupted as a result of the pandemic can now go ahead. Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the project’s contractor.

Napier Clarke have designed the new visitor centre, with Glancy Nicholls Architects working on the historic development.

The Museum’s new visitor centre is scheduled to open from early 2022 and the 1940s-60s historic town and industrial quarter will welcome visitors in 2023.