Destinations Magazine

Category Is... Dudley, England, UK!

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

Pulling into Dudley a few weeks ago sure planted a seed in my head, I had a certain curiosity that affirmed my intentions to return. Keeping to my plan, I had originally scheduled my morning and afternoon in around the town center with a pre-booked visit to the nearby Black Country Living Museum. With illness present, I didn't end up staying with family in nearby Stourbridge. 

Category Is... Dudley, England, UK!

Who was that footballer? As my 82 NX West Midlands bus pulled into Dudley's town centre, I saw a certain statue of a former England professional player kicking a ball. After recounting this sight whilst at my Grandparents house, my Granddad went on to tell me that the player was Duncan Edwards. Edwards had been one of the famous 'Busby Babes', he had played for both England and also Manchester United but met his match during a deadly plane crash on a flight from Munich, Germany in 1958. At first, Edwards had survived the crash but shortly after in hospital in Germany he passed away at the tender age of 21 years old. When I asked my Granddad if Edwards could have been the Beckham of his day, he absolutely agreed with that because Edwards had secured many triumphs during his short career. Edwards played for his country 18 times, making these new players look lazy! It made sense why Dudley boasted a statue of the player at the foot of the market. Sure, Dudley had many things for me to discover!

Another element from my morning in Dudley that Saturday morning was my full English breakfast. The previous pitstop was merely about changing buses in Dudley from the 82 to the 6, with my Brother unwell there wouldn't be any need for me to pay attention to that Stourbridge bound bus. Breakfast was the thing that mattered before I headed down to the castle and living museum. After checking out one of the greasy spoons, I chose the second cafe because I was hungry and didn't want to waste any time! Refried and ready, I enjoyed my cut price Dudley town breakfast with a cup of tea. Being quite early on, the local conversations hadn't started yet, better luck next time! Enjoying my regular breakfast felt like a welcomed break, most certainly it was a departure from my Gas Street Kitchen serving that I had enjoyed in Birmingham. Difference is everything, Dudley definitely didn't have anything to prove and I was there for it 100%! Fed and watered, where would be next? Dudley had a plan, knowing the route entirely! 

Category Is... Dudley, England, UK!

Dudley already knew that I would be spending my paper at the Black Country Living Museum, so the complimentary views of Dudley Castle were very much appreciated! During that first visit to Dudley in a very long time, the view of the castle from the bus station planted a seed into my head. With intent to return, I knew those 'free of charge' vistas would need to happen during that November 2021 visit. Ebbing closer to Remembrance Day 2021, it was a nice surprise to see the castle adorned in a poppy style mesh! After my breakfast I made my way down the hill through the bus station, as I tried to take a photo of the castle from a distance, a lady started a conversation with me randomly. Taking her copy of the local 'Dudley Chronicle', she referred to the photo of the castle that had the same poppy addition, it was unexpected but the split second conversation was centred with a friendly nature, all good. My view didn't cost a penny, the photo of the castle satisfied one of the days objectives in Dudley. D, I saved pennies and paper, alright?

Transportation links within the Dudley area really need to step up, taking the bus wasn't a problem but I prefer the metro when there's room to choose. In time, Dudley will have a brand new West Midlands Metro line making its way down from Wednesbury Great Western Street to Brierley Hill with stops that will serve Dudley town center. From Bilston Central, I would be able to reach my Dudley destinations with a small interchange in Wednesbury as mentioned. To be brutally honest, the first phase of this new line should have been built many years ago, the West Midlands majorly lags behind Manchester with funding evidently not meant worthy for us in the West Midlands! Build it, make it happen, we don't want to be the laughing stock forever with such a poor transport infrastructure because this region deserves to level up! During that Saturday in Dudley, it was refreshing to see the construction forging ahead for the Metro! Go on, bring the West Midland Metro to Dudley because the wait has been long! Dudley, make a move! 

Category Is... Dudley, England, UK!

Once again I was thankful to be out of the house because this time last year, well it was time for another lockdown! Not friends! 2021 had other plans for me, with another weekend on the cards with nothing to do, I made my Black Country Living Museum comeback! I had been to that Dudley based 'blast to the past' many times before that November 2021 moment but I had one place in mind! Paying my entry a couple of weeks before my arrival, I was amazed to find out that I would be 'unchained' to use that one ticket for 12 months! My 11:00 time slot was an overestimation, I arrived before that time, no issues were brought up because I was welcomed to proceed forth regardless of the time. Yes, the outlook looked pretty much the same, the mine stood in the same place with the same entrance it had during those school visits. Visiting one house from the 18th Century, it had me finding out stark realities, the house told the story of a well-to-do family who did not experience poverty like those did in the 'back to backs!' Just grim! 

Clocking 'Hobbs', I would definitely be enjoying a bag of chips before I headed for the bus that afternoon! Getting a snapshot of the period 1900's street, I felt like that school kid once again but that time around I knew what I wanted! Paying a visit to the sweet and then cake shops had me buying some sweet treats like cinder toffee and then a Bakewell tart. Now, where was the pub? Swinging past the hardware store had me schooled, the period costume styled staff knew their stuff because I was quizzing them about facts, I went in good and proper! Make mine a pint of mild! The 'Bottle & Glass Inn' had me feeling that roaring fire, ordering my pint and taking a bag of scratchings was golden! Making it my first of two pints during that visit, I imagined if I was one of the Shelby's from the success that is 'Peaky Blinders!' Many scenes had been filmed at the BCLM, I wanted to know! The chemist had me looking into a time machine, it was impressive to see the potions! Dudley's Black Country Living Museum schooled me proper! Yes!

Category Is... Dudley, England, UK!

After I had asked the chemist what hangover cures the poor would have on offer, well those facts had me intrigued to know more! Back in the 1900's that chemist mixed his powders and chemicals together, he kept secrets as tight as a RuPaul's Drag Race 'Non-Disclosure Agreements' keeps queens exposing certain parts of their seasons! That strict? Yes! Moving onto the general store allowed me to find out how those steelwork bosses made the first 'multi-purpose' stores way back before the likes of 'Home Bargains' or 'B&M!' Business is business, I guess? Yes! Back to the blinders, I found out that 'Charlie Strong's Scrap Metal Yard' had been filmed at the Black Country Living Museum down from the street level, down the steps from the sweet shop. Of course, I recognised the same canal-side steelworks from the famous Midlands gang inspired series. One step at a time, the Black Country Living Museum told me the truth about the region from years past. Yes, those chips tasted amazing! Worth every penny, Dudley! 

Forging ahead? Yes, I had sure noticed the construction scaffolding but didn't know what it was for? After speaking with a lady who was on strike, she told me that the 1940's to 1960's streets would be completed in 2024. Complete with a pub, post office, Co-operative supermarket of the time and a maternity health center. She had said that many people from the Windrush generation had been contacted, their stories would be vital for the new streets to give justice to the changing fabric of our community. I will definitely be back with my Niece and Nephew in a few years, once they have grown up a bit so they can understand the BCLM more. Returning to the main entrance allowed me to see the new visitors center that was being built, something told me that the new West Midlands Metro would bolster the new developments that are being built at Dudley's Black Country Living Museum. With hidden depths, Dudley sure became a category, it was totally worth my while to see some another place closer to home. Dudley, delivered that! 

Discover Dudley! 

Joseph Harrison

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