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West Midlands Black Country Living Museum

One of the best folk museums in the country.

The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands which was rich in coal, ironstone, limestone and fireclay and is the first industrial landscape anywhere in the world and later the most industrialised region of Britain. This is where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal and making iron enough for industrial use.

With the arrival of steam power and canals this became the greatest iron producing district not only in Britain, but also the world. The population exploded as people came here for work. It was the largest industrial landscape seen anywhere working around the clock.

The name dates from the 1830s and covers an area stretching from Stourbridge in the south to Wolverhampton and Walsall in the north and Birmingham to the east. There were about twenty towns, each with their specialist industry. Initially much of this was produced in small workshops in back yards. This included nails, chains, anchors, edge tools, locks, anvils, vices, pots and pans - anything that could be made from iron. These were later replaced by industrial size works and factories. There were also glassworks, leather works, fireclay good including pipes and sanitary ware as well as soaps. In the C20th it moved into motor car and motor cycle production as well as electrical goods.

The last coal mine closed in 1968 and manufacturing dwindled. Many railways shut and factories and workshops were demolished to be replaced by new housing, trading estates and shopping parks.

An open air museum was developed during the 1970s to preserve the heritage before it was lost forever. This is on a derelict site that had been the site of nearly fifty small pit shafts as well as lime kilns and served by canal and railway.

Over 150 buildings have been rescued from around the area and have been rebuilt here to recreate a typical Black Country Landscape. Where a building cannot be rescued, a new one has been reconstructed, like the Newcomen Engine house and Newcomen Atmospheric Engine. A small reconstructed mine shaft has also been opened to show what conditions were like in a C19th mine. An electric tramway has been built to run the selection of trams preserved at the museum as well as a trolley bus system. These run visitors around the site along with the vintage buses.

Vintage bus, Black Country Museum.jpg

The Museum is divided up into different area. The VILLAGE typical of an early C20th settlement with pub, mix of shops and houses with back yard workshops, wash house and privy.

The Village, Black Country Museum.jpg

OLD BIRMINGHAM ROAD is set in the 1930s with shops, houses, school and Workers’ Institute.

Old Birmingham Road, Black Country Museum.jpg

Scattered around the site are the SEMI RURAL COTTAGES with gardens, pig sty and privy.

Jerushah Cottage, Black Country Museum.jpg

Road transport was becoming increasingly common and the TRANSPORT SECTION not only includes the trams, trolley buses and vintage buses, but also two garages and examples of motor cars and motor cycles made in the area.


The BOAT DOCK is in the old canal basin with canal boats, forge and lime kilns.

Canal basin, Black Country Museum.jpg

The COLLIERY AREA has the surface buildings including the winding house and office as well as the reconstructed drift mine. There is also a Newcomen steam engine which was used to pump water out of the deeper mines.


There is a 1930s FAIRGROUND, which is typical of a travelling fair with helter skelter, swing boats, cake walk, hoopla etc. They were set up waste ground for a few days and provided thrills, entertainment and a change for those who might never go on holiday

Fairground, Black Country Museum.jpg

Costumed interpreters are on site and in the buildings to explain what it was like to live and work in one of the world’s most heavily industrialised landscapes. Live demonstrations take place in the bakery, nail makers workshop, chain making workshop.

There are also special events held throughout the year like the 1940s weekend as well as heritage skills course in peg rug making or canal painting. They also run Experience days spending a day with the blacksmith, sweet maker of baker.

I visted during the very popular 1940s weekend, which explains the crowds and the dress, but unfortunately many of the industrial workshops weren't working. To see these at work, chose a non event day.

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Parts of the wonderful BBC series Peaky Blinders were filmed in the Black Country Museum.

"Peaky Blinders may be synonymous with Birmingham, but some of its key scenes are filmed just up the road. The Black Country Living Museum, about 12 miles away from the gang's real-life home, has been used for shoots on all five series. Parts of the open-air museum are used to depict important locations in the show, including Charlie Strong's yard. Creator Steven Knight has described it as "the heart" of the programme. The museum, in Dudley, boasts reconstructed shops and houses, and was also used to film the Steve Coogan comedy-drama Stan and Ollie."
Black Country Living Museum - The Village Houses

The village street is a recreation of an early C20th street with a mixture of shops, houses and backyards, chapel and pub.

Methodism held a particular appeal for the poor and expanded rapidly in the industrial areas in at the start of the C19th. Every village had a Chapel.


The PROVIDENCE CHAPEL is a simple brick building with a small lobby and two doors - one for the men and a separate door for the women. Seating in the chapel was divided by a central wooden division. The inside is dominated by the tall pulpit.Being the 1940s weekend there was a display of wedding dresses. Above, painted on the wall is a banner “Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness”.


There is a gallery running round three sides of the chapel which is supported by fluted columns with ornate capitals.


The BOTTLE AND GLASS INN is at the bottom of the street and would originally have backed onto a canal. It is late C18th and was popular with boatmen, miners and brickmakers working on the canals. The horses were left to graze on the back lawn. There were regular fights and the pub was not considered a suitable place for women. Inside the door on the left is the public bar with snug on the right. The pub still serves traditional beers from local breweries.


To the side of the pub is the CARTER’S YARD. Horses were essential transport being used to haul canal barges and pull carts. Horses were unable to work long hours and needed to be changed before they became exhausted.

The first building is the small tack room. Next to it is a stable with an over head hay loft. Next to it is the open cart shed with another stable and hay store next to it.

Beyond the Carter’s Yard is SIDEBOTHAM’S STEEL TRAP WORKS. This made animal traps of all sizes from bear traps to rabbit traps. Most were exported.

STATION ROAD COTTAGES are actually a replica of two houses still standing on Station Road in Old Hill. One has an Anderson Shelter built in the back garden.


These were built in the mid C19th and are typical industrial dwellings with a ground floor kitchen and pantry.


The two bedrooms upstairs are reached by a staircase concealed behind a wooden door in the kitchen.


In the back garden is a pig sty with a boiler on the side used for boiling up the pig swill.


At the end of Station Cottages is the NAIL SHOP. Nail working was one of the oldest specialist trades in the Black Country and in the mid C19th there were over 50,000 nail workers. Small workshops like this could be found in back yards.


The nail workers worked for mail masters (foggers) who supplied then with nail rod. They could make up to 2000 nails a day but it was poorly paid work. The building contained two hearths, which were centrally placed allowing several family members to work round it at the same time.

They made everything from hob nails to railway sleeper spikes. The rod was heated and continually beaten to a point, which also strengthen the wrought iron before the head was made and the final nail quenched.



With the introduction of machine made nails in the mid C19th, the number of hand nail makers dropped rapidly and few were made by hand by the end of the century.

Opposite Station Road Cottages are a pair of back to back houses. These were built in large numbers in industrial areas of the West Midlands to provide cheap high density housing for the working classes. Each had a ground floor living kitchen with a pantry and two small bedrooms on the first floor. In the back yard was the wash house and earth closet.

The ANCHOR MAKER’S HOUSE is next to Gregory's General Store, with a side entry giving access to the back yard. It is typical of working class terrace housing built at the end of the C19th. It is a typical two up and two down house. The front door was rarely used, only for weddings and funerals.The front room was reserved for best and used on Sundays. The fireplace has a decorative glazed tile surround.


The back kitchen was the main living room and reached from the back door. All cooking was done at the ornamental cast iron range, which also provided hot water and heat. Between the two rooms was a small pantry.



The houses had a back garden used for growing vegetables to fed the family.

The earth closet, wash house and small workshops were here. The earth closet was emptied regularly by the night soil man.


Although the house belonged to an Anchor maker, the workshop in the back yard is actually from that of a chain maker.




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Black Country Living Museum - The Village Shops

The village street has a selection of shops similar to those found in most villages and small town in the Black Country. The General store was possibly the most important.

GREGORY'S GENERAL STORE is very typical of a store that did literally sell everything from clothes to food, catering for those on low incomes who had difficulty in making ends meet. Initially it had been run from Mrs Gregory’s front room, but as trade increased, the house was converted to a double fronted shop with living quarters behind and above.




Meat and dairy products were sold at one end. This included produce like ham, butter, cheese, margarine, beef suet, pork fat, lard, scratchings, homemade faggots, tripe and cow’s heels. Eggs were sold individually and butter by the penny’s worth. The family kept their own chickens and pigs which were reared for the shop.



Vegetables were displayed outside the shop. Dry goods and teas were sold from the middle counter.


At the opposite end were sweets, drapery and cigarettes. Cigarettes were usually sol singly rather than by the packet. Clothing and footwear could be ordered from a catalogue and were collected by Mrs Gregory once a week.

In the back yard was the wash house,. As well as doing the family washing, the boiler was used to make tripe that was sold in the shop. It was kept hot in the boiler and brought into the shop in a pot, a bit at a time. The family also baked bread to sell in the shop.



The HARDWARE AND IRONMONGERS STORE was originally two shops that were
built on a corner site in Wolverhampton in the early C19th.The original painted advert for Gold Flake tobacco can still be made out.



The hardware shop on the corner sells everything needed for minor repairs around the house and garden, including tools, locks, hinges, plumbing supplies, paint, cleaning products, housewares. The shelves are packed with goods and more hang from the ceiling.

The ironmongers next door sells everything the housewife might want from tin baths hanging up outside the door to sets of china displayed in glass fronted cases. There are wash tubs and baskets hanging from the ceiling. There are mangles, pots and pans and brushes of every description. Thee is a bell on the counter to get the shopkeeper’s attention.







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Black Country Living Museum - The Village Shops cont

As well as the general store and the hardware and ironmingers, EMILE DOO’S CHEMIST SHOP, played a central role in the community as many people could not afford to pay to visit the doctor before the formation of the National Health Service.


The chemist provided free medical advice as well as administering basic first aid and weighing babies. They were even known to undertake dentistry and veterinary work. They made up all their own prescriptions.



Set back from the main street are T COOK’S SWEET SHOP and VEAL’S BAKERY. The sweet shop is an old fashioned shop selling loose sweets from large glass jars. At the back is a large confectioner’s furnace used to boil up the sugar and glucose before colour and flavouring was kneaded into the molten sugar and then rolled into different shapes.

The baker’s shop sold bread baked in the oven at the back of the shop. The shop opened at 6am so workers could call in on their way to work to buy cobs or bread pudding to take to work with them. bread was sold by weight and often a family would only afford to buy a half or a quarter of a loaf. The shop also sold Crawford’s biscuits from large tins arranged on the back wall.


Next to the baker’s is is the PAWNBROKER’S SHOP. Pawning goods was quick way to raise a short term loan and was the only source of credit available to the poor. Families would pawn their possessions at the start of the week and then redeem them on a Friday or Saturday once they had their wages.



Pawnbroker’s were common in large industrial areas and were often run from converted houses. The shop was in the front room and the articles to be pawned were taken as security against the loan. The value of the loan was determined by the amount the pawnbroker would raise by selling the item. The customer received the money and a ticket to redeem the item once the loan was repaid in full. By law, all items had to be kept for a year. After this time, the pawnbroker was allowed to sell the item to recoup the loan.


There is also a fish and chip shop in the row, which always has long queues.


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Black Country Living Museum - Old Birmingham Road

Old Birmingham Road is a recreation of a 1930s street with school, Workers’s Institute, shops and houses.

ST JAMES’S SCHOOL is a typical Victorian school building dating from the mid C19th.

It was originally divided into two separate school, one for boys and one for girls, who paid 2d a week to attend. By 1906 it was recommended for closure being described as ‘dingy, dilapidated and dirty’. The small lancet windows were replaced by larger windows, a new toilet block was provided at the back of the school and it just provided mixed infant education. It was heated by coal fire stoves, but this was dependent on their being coal available. In 1912 school was free but attendance was made compulsory. Most teachers were women as they were cheaper to employ.



HOBBS AND SONS FISH AND CHIP SHOP dates from the late C18th but was refaced in bright red brickwork at the end of the C19th. It was a commercial laundry before becoming a fish and chip shop. Fish and chips were a well established working class food across industrial Britain. Lard is used for an authentic taste and the shop still has hand painted tiled wall panels and has a small saloon next to it where patrons can eat their fish and chips. The fish and chips is sold in paper cones rather than the traditional newspaper.


H MORRALL’S GENTLEMENS’ OUTFITTERS has been returned to its 1935 condition. Stock is stored shelving behind the counter and sold everything likely to be needed from pyjamas to hats and pocket watches. There is even a hat stretcher.



HUMPHREY BROTHERS BUILDERS’ MERCHANTS sold fireplaces, sanitary ware and building supplies including Walpamur, a flat paint used for internal walls.



The green washbasin and toilet was height of fashion, after coloured bathroom suites had been introduced from America in 1927.


At the back is the office with safe and more stores, including this display of nuts and bolts.




Across the road is a small storage yard with a selection of builder’s supplies including timber, bricks, slates, drain pipes and chimney pots.

A. HARTHILL MOTORCYCLES is a double fronted shop. Motorcycle production was at its peak in the 1920s and 1930s and local dealers not only sold motorcycles but also provided servicing and sold spare parts.


Next door is ALFRED PREEDY & SONS TOBACCONISTS. The company was a major wholesaler as well as retailer with its own brands of tobacco.



JAMES GRIPTON’S RADIO SHOP is next door and has a workshop behind for repairs.


A brick tunnel and cart entrance provides access to the back of the buildings. There is a 1930s kitchen with a small electric cooker and large earthenware sink. Stairs lead to two small bedrooms and an everyday living room and best living room, furnished with original 1930s style furniture and wall paper.


At the end of the road is The CRADLEY HEATH WORKERS’ INSTITUTE which was built with surplus funds raised in 1910 during a strike for a minimum wage by women chain makers. The women won an agreed minimum wage of two and a half pence per hour rather than being paid piece work. This was effectively a 100% rise for the women who worked 55 hours a week. Their campaign won widespread national support and at the end of the strike there was a surplus of £1500. It was agreed to build a centre for ‘social and industrial activity’


It is an attractive Arts and Crafts style building and quickly became a centre for educational meetings, social gatherings and trade union activities. It had a cinema and was used for theatre performances and concerts.

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Black Country Living Museum - The Semi-rural Houses and the Cast Iron Houses

Travelling by road in the C18th was hazardous. Not only were there highway men to contend with, roads were often deep, virtually impassable muddy mires. The turnpike roads were one solution to this problem. Acts of Parliament set up Turnpike Trusts which were responsible for building and maintaining roads, using money raised by tolls. These were collected at toll gates by the toll keeper who lived in a specially built toll house. The amount varied according to the type of vehicle or goods being transported.

The TOLL HOUSE is a typical example of a mid C19th toll house, surrounded by a vegetable and fruit garden. It is a single storey building with two small windows in the porch to give a good view of the road. Below them are built up stone sections (looking a bit like an external oven) which seem to have been put there to stop people from urinating in the corners.


On the ground floor is a living room with a kitchen range and there are two bedrooms, complete with peg rugs, stone hot water bottle and chamber pots. At the back was the outhouse with wash copper, stone sink and bread oven and an earth closet which would be emptied by the night soil men.

When tolls were no longer collected, the house was let out as rented accommodation.



Many houses were built over old mine shafts and suffered from subsidence. JERUSHAH or the TILTED COTTAGE is a good example. This was built in the mid C19th in an area of small coal mines and pits.


At the start of the C20th a new front door and larger windows were added and a brewhouse added on the side. This was the house of a slightly more affluent working class family, who regarded themselves as ‘posh’ compared to poorer neighbours. On the ground floor is the kitchen living room with a cast iron range. The bedrooms on the first floor are reached through a door in the wood panelling next to the range.



Of this room is a small larder and storage area.


On the other side is the brewhouse which contained a wash copper in the corner for the weekly wash and a sink. There is a smaller range which was used for cooking in the summer.


At the front of the house is a flower garden with rose trellis. The vegetable garden, hen house and pig sties are at the side. The earth closet was next to the pig sty.




PITT’S COTTAGE nearby is completely different and was probably self built by the family using second hand bricks and scant foundations.


It had just two rooms; the living room kitchen with a small bedroom behind. Conditions were basic.



To the side was the wash house which was also used for storage.


The pair of CAST IRON HOUSES were built in Dudley in 1925. There was an acute shortage of housing after the First World War. Not only was there a shortage of labour to build houses, there was also a shortage of traditional building materials. Dudley Council experimented with pre-formed cast iron panels that could be bolted together. The inside was lined with asbestos and cavities filled with compressed wool waste known as ‘sprag’.

The houses could be erected by four men in just one week. They were designed with large windows, running water, inside WC and bathroom.


The outside of the house had to be repainted every two or three years to stop the metal from corroding. They were very costly to build at £1000 and rents were too high for most families. Only four houses were built.

The main living room was at the front of the house and had an open coal fire. The three piece suite is made of a synthetic leather known as Rexine which was cheap but smart looking.


Behind is the kitchen still with a cast iron range but the wash copper and sink with running water are also in here, rather than a separate out house.

They also had a large garden.


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Black Country Living Museum - The Garages and Road Transport Collection

The CONWAY GARAGE is a replica built of modern materials of the garage built in 1936 belonging to A W Broom. He was a motor mechanic for the Sunbeam Motor Company and part of their experimental and racing team in the 1920s. When Sunbeam car production ended in 1935, he built a garage in front of his bungalow, naming it after his favourite place for weekend breaks. It is typical of small suburban and country garages, being made of timber and asbestos. It sold petrol and also provided a ‘make do and mend’ service at a time when car engines, brakes and tyres were limited and new cars very expensive.


The Museum’s collection of vintage cars is kept here and includes Alec Broome’s own black 1932 Sunbeam Sportsman fixed head coupe.

The BRADBURY & WEDGE MOTOR GARAGE is another new building. The front is a copy of the garage established by W H Bradbury in a former horse tram depot in 1915.

The company began as motor engineers, coach and body builders but by 1919 were acting as agents for many leading car companies. The building houses a collection of cars from 1900 -1935 as well as the restoration and maintenance workshop for the Museum. Until the Second World War there were many different motor car and motor cycle manufacturers in the area. After the war, new sports car manufacturers appeared and manufacture of motor cycles and scooters continued. Manufacture had ceases by the 1980s with the supply of foreign vehicles.

Inside the doors is a Guy Arab fire engine from 1924.


Cars include the 1903 12 hp Sunbeam motor car (yellow), two motor cycles from 1912 and 1913. Beyond them is a red 1912 Star Victoria and the only known survivor of this type.


Beyond this is a 1914 Briton two seater and at the end of the row is a Steven’s light commercial vehicle from 1936. This was a three wheeled vehicle designed to replace the horse and cart or bicycle.

The row of cars on the opposite side include a 1930s AJS coach built 2 seater (blue) intended as a run about for the middle class womanBeyond this is a 1931 Star Comet which was a very expensive car with folding arms, deeply sprung cushions and a large boot. The company folded in 1930s depression as the cars were too expensive. There is a green 1934 Sunbeam Dawn and at the far end a 1952 Daimler, the youngest car in the collection.


The Museum also has a collection of vintage buses including a Guy Arab half cab and a Daimler which provide a free bus service from the entrance to the Worker’s Institute.



It also has a collection of trolley buses and trams although these were not running the day I visited, as essential maintenance was needed.

Black Country Living Museum - The Colliery Area

The colliery area contains the surface buildings including the winding house and office as well as the reconstructed drift mine.

The Museum was built over the site of over forty small disused mine shafts. These employed between six and thirty men. The Racecourse Colliery has been recreated here with its mine office, winding house and engine, pit head frame and waste heap.


The brick built manager’s office and weigh bridge are at the front of the site. Usually one manager would be responsible for several small pits.

One of the manager’s jobs was to make sure plans were kept up to date. There are no safety lamps as the workings were shallow and volatile gases could escape. These were known as 'naked lamp' mines as the miners used tallow candles set in a lump of clay. At the start of each shift, a supervisor would take a safety lamp down and check the workings for gas.

The miner’s were lowered down the mine in a cage at the head frame. This also was used to bring coal up to the surface.

The pit head gear was driven by a steam engine in the winding house.


This turned the wooden wheel in the outside of the building. A cable would have run to the top of the head frame and then down the shaft to raise and lower the cage.


The steam engine was powered by a vertical boiler in an adjacent room. The boiler would originally have been fed with water pumped out of the mine. It is now fed by a small feed water pump which recycles water from a small reservoir.



Other small steam engines on display provided ventilation within the mine.


A replica Newcomen Steam Engine has been built on the site. These were once common to pump water out of the deeper mines. It is housed in a brick building from which a wooden beam projects through one wall.


Inside the engine house, the boiler is encased in brick. Above is the piston. It’s movement controls the movement of the great beam which lifts water from the bottom of the mine shaft.

Black Country Living Museum - The Canal Area

The boat dock is in the old canal basin with canal boats, forge and lime kilns.

Before the arrival of the railways, all transport was by canal. There was a dense network of canals belonging to the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The canals continued to be used for short distance traffic until the mid C20th when increasing road transport made them unviable. Part of the system has been restored at the Black Country Living Museum.

The LIMEKILNS are one of the few original buildings on the site. They form a bank of four massive continuous draw kilns which provided lime for the local blast furnaces. This acted as a flux which removed impurities from the iron, forming slag.

Limestone and coal were packed in alternate layers inside the kiln and a fire lit at the base. More limestone and coal could be added at the top. The quicklime was extracted through arched openings at the bottom of the kiln and mixed with water to form slaked lime. The kilns originally had tall brick chimneys which were taken down when production ceased.

In front of the kilns is the remains of a timber wharf boat which would have been used to carry limestone and coal to the kilns. These were horse drawn and had no shelter for the steerers who returned home after a day’s work.

Other examples of canal boats can be seen in the boat dock in front of the rolling mill.

The boat dock has been carefully recreated using recycled timbers of derelict wooden boats. Factory Junction bridge is an example of a lifting bridge found on canals. Behind it is Brown’s bridge, an example of a metal cross girder bridge.


The boat dock was used to maintain and build new boats. Around the dock are traditional buildings including the blacksmith’s forge which would have made all the metal work needed to construct or repair boats as well as reshoeing the canal horses. There are stores for nails, rivets and paints needed on the boats, as well as stabling for the horses. There is lifting tackle for the boats.

Also on site is the ANCHOR FORGE which preserves equipment from the last working anchor forge in the Black Country. Anchor making was an important industry and made anchors for well known ships like the Great Eastern, Titanic and Royal Yacht Britannia.

Next to this is the IRONWORKER’S OFFICE complete with the clocking in machine.


The Museum runs 45 minute canal trips into the DUDLEY CANAL TUNNEL. This was built as a mine tunnel to bring limestone out of underground workings. Like other early tunnels, there was no towpath through the tunnel and boats had to be ‘legged’ by men lying on their backs and pushing with their feet against the walls. The horse walked over the top of the hill.

Black Country Living Museum - 1940s Weekend

1940s weekends are popular money raisers. I tend to avoid them as they do tend to be busy. They can also vary a lot from excellent to pretty dire. This was definitely excellent and possibly one of the best 1940s experiences there is.

The Museum had gone out of its way to make the event a success with Union Jack bunting and a definite 1940s atmosphere. As well as museum staff in costume, many local visitors arrived wearing 1940s costumes, carrying their wicker shopping baskets and wearing stockings with a seam. Mother-in-law’s fur coat wouldn’t have looked out of place.
The Army was there in force with army tents and camps set up and check points for you to get your passes stamped.




Even the Yanks had arrived.


The Home Guard were out practising with their wooden rifles and there were army vehicles running round.



The RAF and Navy weren’t forgotten, although there were fewer of them around.




Others were dressed up as milkmen, policeman and clippie. There was even a wedding couple. The spiv was doing a roaring trade with red satin knickers, stockings and suspender belts.


Windows were tapped up with brown parcel tape and there were war time posters.


The British cuppa was very popular with groups of people sitting drinking tea out of a big tea pot with a knitted cosy and plates of homemade cake.

Staff in the houses and shops were role playing the 1940s. Coupons were very much to the fore. One house wife was extolling the virtues of potatoes to a less than convinced younger audience, especially when it came to their use in chocolate spread.

There was plenty of entertainment from bands, singers, a tea dance in the mechanics institute and a 1940s fashion show. But it wasn’t all fun as shown by the bomb disposal unit and regular air raid warnings.

The two fish and chip shops were doing a roaring trade although the fish and chips were served in paper cones rather than newspaper. There was a hog roast and the buns came with so much filling I was in danger of dropping bits each time I took a bite. It tasted as good as it smelt.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes it was busy and you could hardly move in the main street for people. Photography was almost impossible. I was wanting to take a picture of the pawn shop window which for most of the day had been hidden by the queue waiting for fish and chips. This cleared just before I left. I was just about to take a picture when two ladies in 1940s costume arrived and stood outside the shop chatting away happily. I waited patiently hoping they might move on. Not a chance. They saw me, smiled and posed. I had to take my picture!


The other downside was that very few of the small workshops in the back yards, which were such a characteristic feature of the area, were working.

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