The Black Country
Come and be surprised by the beauty, heritage and talent hidden within the Black Country.
The Black Country
Heroic, surprising, ingenious - just a few minutes west of Birmingham is the beautiful Black Country, cradle of the Industrial Revolution and home to many talented artists and craftsmen.
Including towns such as Wolverhampton, Dudley, Smethwick and Walsall as well as the surrounding countryside and villages, The Black Country might have earned its name from its history as the original home of British heavy industry and manufacturing, but it is a surprisingly beautiful breath of fresh air to visit.
Things to do
There is a multitude of things to do in the Black Country, if you are looking for a day out during your visit to Birmingham.
There are a number of stunning historic buildings to explore in the Black Country.
From places like Dudley Arts Gallery which includes works by J.M.W. Turner, to historic houses with William Morris interiors to creative industry venues packed with the world's best crystal and glassware. Why not commission a piece yourself?
The New Art Gallery Walsall is an exciting and architecturally outstanding multimillion-pound landmark building. It is home to the prestigious Garman Ryan collection as well as works by artists as diverse as William Blake, Van Gogh and Picasso. With the largest collection of contemporary Pop Art outside London, Wolverhampton Art Gallery is a must to visit.
There is an abundance of nature and countryside throughout the Black Country. Despite its abundant industrial heritage the Black Country is surprisingly a peaceful haven for walkers and much of the countryside can be seen from the canals.
See an itinerary for two days in the Black Country.
No visit to the Black Country would be complete without a visit to the Black Country Living Museum, in Dudley, where costumed demonstrators and working craftsmen bring Britain’s industrial heyday back to life with their local knowledge, practical skills and unique Black Country humour.
It’s a rare opportunity to step right back in time. Historic buildings from all around the Black Country have been moved and authentically rebuilt at the Museum, to create a tribute to the traditional skills and enterprise of the people that once lived in the heart of industrial Britain. Read a blog about our visit here.
Also in Dudley is the fantastic Dudley Zoological Gardens and Castle, which has been welcoming visitors since 1937 and is home to some of the world's rarest and most exotic animals. The castle was first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086.
Don’t miss the Canal Trust, also in Dudley.
The Black Country and Birmingham Canals have a unique place in the history of the Industrial Revolution. The first successful Newcomen steam engine was used to pump water from coalmines near Dudley Castle in 1712 and John Wilkinson, another iron pioneer, introduced coke to his Bradley Furnace at Bilston in around 1758. However it was the emergence of the canal system, which made industrialisation develop extremely rapidly in the Black Country.
At the Canal Trust you can experience over 420 million years of history in 45 minutes on a canal trip into Dudley’s limestone caverns. Marvel at the impressive limestone caverns carved by men to access raw material to power the industrial revolution.
You can actually run, cycle or walk from Birmingham to the Black Country along the canals, starting from Gas Street in the centre of the city and on to Dudley and Wolverhampton though Galton Valley.
Explore the Stourbridge Glass Quarter, home to glassmaking for over 400 years. The Red House Glass Cone reaches 100ft into the sky and is one of only four complete cones left in the UK. You can watch glassblowing demonstrations, take part in craft activities, explore the craft studios on site and enjoy light refreshments at the Red Cone Coffee House. Ruskin Glass Centre, Webb Corbett Visitor Centre and Tudor Crystal are also places of interest for the visitor to explore. Stourbridge is also home to the International Festival of Glass, taking place every two years. Visit www.glassquarter.org.uk for more details.
If sport’s your thing, visit Wolverhampton Racecourse - Britain's first floodlit horse racing track bringing you the thrills of racing, day and night or check whether Wolverhampton Wanderers, one of the region’s best known football teams is playing at home.
Fancy giving your home a makeover? Then visit the regions fantastic IKEA, Birmingham with nearly fifty room sets, three full size homes and over 9500 products. Along with their famous meatballs in their restaurant and children’s activities during holidays it really can offer something for everyone.
For more ideas of places to visit, check out the Black Country tourism website.
Eating and drinking
The Black Country is famous for real ale and excellent cuisine available in a diverse collection of restaurants, takeaways, and pubs that really do cater for everyone.
In the towns you’ll find plenty of familiar names as well as a host of great independent restaurants like Di Napoli in Oldbury, a highly-rated Italian or the Crooked House in Dudley, described by one reviewer as “posh, with a Black Country twist!”
And it’s not just in Birmingham that you’ll find great Asian food. Shalimar Indian Cuisine in West Bromwich and Suki’s Bar & Indian Restaurant in Darlaston, Wallsall, both hold coveted Black Country Tourism Awards for their food and service.
Established in the year 1797, situated in Stourbridge, Nickolls & Perks is the oldest wines and spirits merchant in the UK outside London. Bordeaux, Champagne, Vintage Port & Whisky are their main specialist areas, they have recently been named by Which Wine Guide as "The Bordeaux Wine Merchant Specialist of the UK". They regularly host tasting events for retail and corporate customers in their 16th Century Cellars and other venues in the Midlands.
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