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14 September 2022: Black Country Living MuseumA 1950s bus in red livery

This was another day of nostalgia for me as our National Trust Supporter Group holiday took us all to the Black Country Living Museum. For me the most evocative item was the Midland Red bus running a shuttle service between the entrance and the school. Most of the buildings at the museum come from a slightly earlier era than my childhood. There is, however, a large area where some mid-20th Century buildings are to be erected.

All the buildings one could enter had volunteers dressed appropriately for the period. My wife and I got talking to some, who were all very knowledgeable about the building they were in and the era that had seen its heyday. We had a long talk with the lady in the Methodist Chapel, which was reconsecrated after it was re-erected at the site and has services once a month and on festivals.

On the corner opposite the chapel is the Victorian Elephant and Castle pub. We were told that the museum was particularly pleased to obtain this because, at a time when pubs commonly displayed signs proclaiming “No blacks. No dogs. No Irish.”, it was one of the very few to display a sign saying “All welcome”. The reconstructed pub is licensed for the sale of alcoholic drinks.

We bought ourselves snacks at the bakery (at 2022 prices). We ate these in a yard next to the way down to the canal. The short restored canal is run by a separate trust. Some of our group who took a canal trip told us later how very interesting it was.

In the afternoon my wife and I attended a showing at the cinema. This is a large shed that an enterprising engineer had built in his back yard and opened as a cinema in the first quarter of the 20th Century. He only charged a few pence for entry but this was sufficient to give him an additional income of £2 per week, which then was much more than most people’s weekly pay. The film we saw was a Laurel and Hardy one, full of highly amusing predicaments they managed to get themselves into. My wife said she hadn’t heard me laugh so much for years.

We spent a most interesting day at the museum until it was time to get back on the coach for the return to the hotel.