The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley has revealed that it will construct 22 new historic buildings and structures at the site, following a £30 million investment in the local community.

CGI view of main historic street at the Black Country Living Museum

A CGI view of how the main historic street will look when complete.

The project, named Forging Ahead, will include a new visitor centre and learning spaces, plus an industrial quarter with plans to showcase Black Country industry at the height of its post-war manufacturing capability. 

A 1940s-60s town will be the centrepiece of the project, which will feature an NHS clinic, record shop, a barber’s and Co-operative supermarket with the aim of creating 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 stood on the corner of Stafford Street and the Cannock Road in Wolverhampton.

The library will be moved 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.

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.  The development will reportedly increase the museum’s capacity to welcome around 500,000 visitors per year by 2026.

Just some of the usual benefits for groups visiting the museum include discounts for 15 or more people and free places for the group organiser and coach driver. 

Andrew Lovett, chief executive of the Black Country Living Museum, said: “Forging Ahead is now more important than ever to the future of the museum. Thanks to the investment we’ve received, we’re able to invest in growing the museum and bringing the Black Country story to new audiences.

“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.”

Andrew Lovett, chief executive of the Black Country Living Museum.

“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.”

Glen Williams, community engagement manager at the museum added: “Forging Ahead is about so much more than just bricks and mortar: it’s about connecting people to the stories we’re discovering from the 1940s-60s. It’s about revealing hitherto hidden histories and representing the diversity of the Black Country.

“It’s also about finding creative ways to support the health and wellbeing of our community. For example, using the power of reminiscing about the 1940s-60s to amplify our work with Alzheimer’s and dementia groups. I’m excited about the impact Forging Ahead will have on helping us to deliver even more for our community.”

Elephant and Castle pub, Wolverhampton

How the original Elephant & Castle pub looked in its heyday. It will be recreated as part of the Forging Ahead project.

The project represents a £30m investment in the local community, made possible with support from funders including 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.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the National Heritage Fund, added: “These are all ongoing major refurbishment and restoration projects, funded by us, which have been threatened by the pandemic.

“From the oldest surviving outdoor swimming baths to a Victorian pier, and from a much-loved park to an historic abbey, these are all places that will enrich hundreds of lives when they reopen.

“We are delighted this extra funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will ensure that these exciting projects will go ahead.”

For more information about the museum, visit