It was in the town of Dudley, in the 17th century, that coal was first used for smelting iron. The town became known as the capital of the Black Country, a term that arose from the resulting air pollution. This 26-acre museum consists of an entire village made up of buildings from around the region, including a chain maker's workshop; a trap-works where animal snares were fashioned; his-and-hers hardware stores (pots and pans for women, tools and sacks for men); a druggist;
and a general store where costumed women describe life in a poor industrial community in the 19th century. You can also sit on a hard bench and watch Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s cinema, peer into the depths of a mine, or ride on a barge through a tunnel to experience the canal travel of yesteryear. For sustenance there are two cafés: the 1930s-era Fried Fish Shop that serves fish-and-chips cooked in beef drippings, and the Bottle & Glass pub for ales and drinks. To avoid the numerous school parties, visit on the weekend or during school vacations. The museum, 3 miles from the M5, is best reached by car. Leave M5 at Junction 2 by A4123, and then take A4037 at Tipton. Trains from Birmingham New Street to Tipton Station take 16 minutes; buses from the train station run past the museum, which is 1 mile away.