Black Country Living Museum: Forging Ahead wins National Lottery support

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save landmark community and commercial buildings from demolition and rebuild them at the Black Country Living Museum has been awarded £9.8m from the National Lottery.

Some of the buildings identified to be moved brick-by-brick to the Museum include West Bromwich’s Gas Showroom and Dudley’s Woodside Library – both the focus of strong community support to save them. Others, including Wolverhampton’s Elephant & Castle Pub and Lye’s Marsh & Baxter’s Butchers, will be recreated from archive material and images. 

The hugely ambitious scheme – which will create 450 jobs in the local area - will allow the Museum to tell the story of the Black Country up to the closure of the Baggeridge Coal Mine in 1968. It will also transform the Visitor Welcome and Learning facilities.

Ros Kerslake, CEO of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:

Black Country Living Museum is one of the UK’s most popular open-air museums bringing knowledge of the country’s industrial past to a national and international audience. It also has a reputation for working brilliantly with local communities. These latest plans reflect an ongoing commitment to sharing the stories of those who lived in the area and who made it what it is today. Our funding, which is made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will help update the wider site making it a visitor attraction truly fit for the 21st century.

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport adds

Black Country Living Museum is a world-class attraction that tells the story of the region’s history and provides a real boost to the local economy. This exciting project, backed by £9.8m funding from National Lottery players, will help the museum reflect an important time in the area’s past and preserve its historic buildings for the future.

The £21.7m project BCLM: Forging Ahead* forms Phase One of the Museum’s 40 year Masterplan and will see the Museum expand by a third, transforming the site with this new major historic development focused on the period 1940s-1960s and improved visitor facilities.
An initial development grant of £400,000 will allow the Museum to undertake detailed planning proposals and significant historic research, firming up plans to:

Build a new historic town
The number of historic buildings will increase by 34% and the amount of collections on display to the public will double. The Museum will translocate, recreate and replicate key buildings from the area which reflect the lives and stories of people who lived in the Black Country during the 1940s-60s (see notes to editor for a full list).

Construct a new visitor centre and car park
A contemporary visitor centre will provide a juxtaposition against the historic site. This will see the Museum ‘turn its face’ to Castle Hill and reposition its car park and Visitor Welcome route.

• Create a new learning centre
The Museum’s current Rolfe Street Entrance Building will be repurposed and refurbished as a contemporary Learning Centre and a complementary Industrial Learning Space will be created at the heart of the site. Together, they will enhance the Museum’s capacity to deliver learning activities for over 80,000 school children a year.

These developments will provide a ‘stage’ on which to explore questions around several themes including how globalisation impacted trade and industry; and the origins of the region’s richly diverse population, each drawing parallels to how the region continues to innovate (see notes to editors for more detail).

Over the coming months the Museum will continue to work closely with its local communities to build a picture of post-war Black Country in order to submit a second-round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in October 2018 to release the rest of the funding. If successful, construction will begin with a view to be completed in 2022.

Lowell Williams, Chair of the Museum comments

We are absolutely delighted to receive this support from Heritage Lottery Fund and would very much like to thank National Lottery players for making such support possible. We are excited to get started on this project, which has been three years in the making and kick-starts the Museum’s masterplan for the next 40 years. BCLM: Forging Ahead will not only allow us to complete our story, but also to create a truly world-class heritage attraction at the heart of the Black Country – something we can all be proud of. It will enable us to welcome in the region of 500,000 visitors per year, expand significantly, and most importantly improve our visitors’ experience. It will also create circa 450 jobs within our local area, so this is a really positive step for the communities we serve.

Ninder Johal, Board Member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) adds

This is fantastic news for the Black Country region and for our visitor economy. The Black Country LEP is working hard with partners to ensure the infrastructure is in place to support world-class attractions such as the Black Country Living Museum in expanding its visitor experience to increase opportunities for sharing the unique, and successful, story of the Black Country and its significance world-wide across a range of sectors.
Turning the Museum’s face to Castle Hill and creating a Tourism Hub including Dudley’s four attractions: Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Zoological Gardens, Dudley Canal Trust and Dudley Archives & Local History Centre, is real progress for the area and will support the Black Country LEP in delivering key elements of our economic plan including creating new employment, apprenticeships and volunteer opportunities for local people.

To find out how you can get involved, visit bclm.com/ForgingAhead.

* The total cost of the project is £21.7 million and will be supported by a number of bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Arts Council England as well BCLM’s own investment. HLF’s Heritage Grants (HG) applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at a second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

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