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Black Country Living Museum aims to attract 500,000 visitors by 2025

By Liam Keen | Dudley | Attractions | Published:

The Black Country Living Museum is aiming to attract 500,000 visitors by 2025 as part of a multi-million pound expansion project.

The Black Country Living Museum is expanding

Bosses say that the plans, which will create 143 new jobs, will help to "change perceptions" of Dudley and the Black Country as a whole.

The open-air museum secured £9.4 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in May to reach the £23 million needed to complete the expansion.

It will see a new town built on the site, highlighting Black Country history through the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

WATCH: How 1940-60s town will look

Fly through Black Country Living Museum 1940s-60s town plans

Work is starting in Autumn this year and is expected to be finished by Spring 2022.

Last year the museum attracted around 360,000 visitors but they are aiming to attract 140,000 extra visitors by 2025.

Family audience

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CEO of the museum, Andrew Lovett, said: "We have a massive family audience with 360,000 visitors last year, and of those 60,000 were school pupils, so they're a huge part of that.

"We're targetting to get to 500,000 visitors yearly, which could take some time to reach.

"It will be a steady rise and may take two or three years after completion of the work to achieve, but it will ensure our long term financial security and we can continue to invest back into the museum.

"One of the most satisfying things we do is create job opportunities and help change perceptions of Dudley and the region as a whole, it will have a positive impact."

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As part of the plans, historic buildings from across the Black Country will be recreated, while some will be transported brick-by-brick to the museum on Tipton Road.

Dudley's Woodside Library is among the buildings being moved over, while Wolverhampton's former Elephant & Castle pub will be recreated.

The Elephant and Castle will be recreated

There will also be an array of cafes and shops built.

Mr Lovett, aged 53, added: "This expansion means that as a museum we can fulfil our potential, and that's always on my mind.

"I inherited a wonderful museum but this completes the story by going into the 1960's.

"That's more important than anything, we aren't a museum of buildings, we're a museum to tell these stories.

"I think the Black Country has always been on the map and this is just adding to it.

"The irony to life is that we have to live it forward and we can only learn from those before us, and that's what we provide.

"It will help people make sense of their heritage, the people behind it and the history of the Black Country.

"The legacy is born out of what we had before and people having a better understanding of that is a good thing, and it can resonate equally in 2019 as it did at the time.

"We take a lot of what we have now for granted, such as the NHS and consumerism, so to look at the impact of those things at the time is important.

"Migration is also a big thing for the Black Country and we aim to illustrate that, it's our job to try and show the connection with today."

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, primarily covering Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319688.

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