Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Friday 4 June 2010

A couple of days in Dudley (pronounced 'Dud-laay')

On Wednesday AND Thursday we visited The Black Country Museum, a 26 acre living history heritage site - what a fantastic place.  It's understandably won many tourism awards and is well worth a visit.  My parents visited us once again on Wednesday - we have to make the most of being fairly close to them while we can.  Mikey and Sophie left late Wednesday afternoon - their day visit turned into three days, bless them we had some fun together! 

P1210786A The Canal Basin at the Black Country Museum - Dudley Tunnel and Tunnel Tour boats at end




We had a ride on the tram that was kindly donated to the museum and renovated, discovering that it was also born/made in 1920, so at 90 years old is the same age as my father - they're both still looking very grand for their ages.





P1210859A Down but not out - photogenic ally

The only original part of the museum are the Lime Kilns - the other buildings have been retrieved from surrounding areas and painstakingly re-built to mimic a 1930's Black Country town.  There's even a school where you can attend a lesson and write on a slate board, receiving a caning from the schoolmaster if you don't behave or mind you p's and q's!

P1210837 The original lime kilns and the canal for transporting the quick-lime to the iron foundries


Slowly being restored to their former glory - there are two more boats unfortunately sitting on the bottom behind these ones

P1210924They certainly drew in the crowds during the school holidays

P1210798All the museum workers were dressed in authentic clothing, etc from the 1930s 


No sign of a power tool here!

P1210810Kitted out for the underground Black Country mining experience 

P1210814Always a long queue outside the Fish 'n' Chip shop 

P1210822 The fairground with 1930's style rides, side-shows and Helter Skelter


You got the wrong guy officer!!


Coal in abundance - what The Black Country's all about


Producing steel chains

There's a Federation of Women Worker's building in the museum telling the story of the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath, who in 1910, led by Mary Macarthur, won a battle to establish the right to a fair wage following a 10 week strike. This landmark victory changed the lives of thousands of workers who were earning little more than 'starvation wages', while their male employers lived an affluent lifestyle.  Macarthur suggested that "women are unorganised because they are badly paid, and poorly paid because they are unorganised."

P1210820Manufacturing displays all sorts of products

P1210863ACanal boat builders ...

P1210869A and their tools ...


and working canal boats - are all part of The Black Country Museum - interesting stuff!

As we were in Dudley, here's five fascinating facts about the town:

  1. Dudley is often referred to as the "heart" of the Black Country, with the broadest accent of the Black Country coming from there and surrounding areas - see the The Alphabet song for more explanations of this.  With a population of 194,91919 it is the 19th largest settlement in England
  2. The present castle dates from the 13th century and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
  3. Lenny Henry, British comedian, was born there.
  4. The front and inner photographs for the 1971 Led Zeppelin IV album were taken in the Eve Hill area of town.
  5. In an episode of the television comedy series Men Behaving Badly, Dudley is noted as the strangest place where Gary and Dorothy have had sex!

I found it quite amusing to also read that people from The Black Country, just like Suttonians, are offended to be labelled 'Brummies'.  People around the world tend to relate the Black Country dialect with Birmingham, when really it shouldn't be.  However, the exact boundaries of The Black Country have been hotly disputed for many years so it's probably all irrelevant really.



This morning's Dudley Canal Tunnel trip included 'Popeye the sailor man'!

There's a BW facilities block at the museum's moorings, so we managed to pump in and pump out and do a couple of loads of washing and drying on Thursday afternoon - bliss!  Now we just need to find a supermarket to stock up ...


  1. Probably too late now but there is a large Tescos less than a miles walk from the Museum

  2. Where are the boundaries of the Black Country? Thats a question I have encountered on the search for the area's lost canals and the consensus is that it is defined by geology. By that I mean that the area exactly matches the coal deposits which, by an amazing coincidence (not) mirrors the areas covered by the complete 160 mile BCN network.
    Oh dear I have turned into a nerd!
    Capt Ahab

  3. Interesting to see the Bean radiator. Although made in the Black Country, there are more surviving cars left in Australia than the UK. The most famous one is in the national Museum of Australia in Canberra, which drove overland from London in 1927.