HISTORY & TOURISMTourism is in the eye of the beholder. What is wonderfully picturesque to the visitor may just be a tatty old mess in urgent need of a bulldozer to the locals. But we go elsewhere and suddenly the roles are reversed. What you see every day, you become blind to, and in truth there is plenty to attract the visitor to the areas in and around Dudley.
Local and Family History
If your particular interest is local history, we have a separate page of Local History links and features of our own. If you're researching local or family history, you'll probably want to visit local public archives, so check our page for information on them.
The Canals and the River Severn
The region is blessed with two water systems. The old working canals like the Shropshire Union and the Staffs and Worcester have been turned into highly popular leisure waterways, with local centres such as Stourport. And those people who prefer to watch water go by from a safer distance are quickly reminded how important the River Severn once was for trading with other towns en route to Worcester, Gloucester and Bristol. Towns worth a visit are Bewdley and Bridgnorth, and - if you go a little farther - Ironbridge, near Telford, where the world's first iron bridge was built and still stands today. (The Severn is one of our Local History features.)
Despite the onrush of modern, short-life architecture, it's worth remembering that many of the towns in the region have been established for several centuries. That means there are plenty of survivals from earlier periods. The ground floor frontages may have undergone a succession of (sometimes unflattering) changes over the years to meet the needs of the times, but look up and see how grand they must once have been.
Several of the local towns have markets - Dudley and West Bromwich are two examples. But if you've got time, visit Bridgnorth on a Saturday, where modern stalls in the main street cluster round a market hall from a different era altogether.
Crafts Museum, Bewdley
Not very obvious, this one, but cross to the west side of the river, then look for an entrance among the shops on the left side of the main street. It's partly open air, with people demonstrating the old crafts to their visitors. The far end leads out into a small but attractive park.
The Aerospace Museum, Cosford
Twentieth century flight, both civil and military, with some magnificent aircraft on view. Also note Terence Cuneo's painting of a bomber crew kitted up for a raid. If you know Cuneo's work, you'll be delighted by his trademark mouse. Tel: (01902) 374872
Midlands Air Museum (Coventry)
The Midland Air Museum (pictured) lies south of the city at Coventry Airport, Baginton, Warwickshire. The museum building includes small exhibits and relics, along with historical events. Aircraft include an Avro Vulcan, a Gloster Javelin, Phantoms and various others. Telephone: 01203 301033 if you need more information.
Museum of British Road Transport (Coventry)
The Midlands has always been the principal home of the British motor car industry, and the Museum of British Road Transport at Coventry is one of the shrines to its history. In case you never find the map on the web site, the museum is in Hales Street, near the new cathedral in the city centre.
The Black Country Museum (Dudley)
A more traditional museum, but forget dusty display cases. Dudley Museum has for some time had a tradition of producing strong, vibrant, themed exhibitions that would do any museum credit: Titanic, Dinosaurs, Monsters of the Deep, and Black Country People at War are just a few examples. Catch the latest in St James Road, opposite the Dudley Public Library.
The Priory Ruins (Dudley)
Just a short walk down the hill from Dudley town centre (down The Broadway) stand the ruins of one of the oldest buildings in Dudley. Where walls have disappeared, foundations still jut from the turf to mark their position in the midst of an attractive park. And the remaining walls must feature in nearly half the wedding photographs taken in Dudley.
The Wren's Nest (Dudley)
Off Priory Road, about a mile from town, the Wren's Nest is both parkland and an important geological nature reserve. It has provided a treasure-trove of fossil life, with some of the findings on display in a permanent exhibition in Dudley Museum.
Broadfield House Glass Museum (Kingswinford)
This is glass-making country, from prosaic to magnificent craftsmanship. This museum in Kingswinford has plenty to see, but if you want a taste of the real thing, you're not far from Stuart Crystal in Stourbridge, which does factory tours on certain days.
Ashwood Nurseries (near Kingswinford)|
A medium-sized prize-winning nursery that's attractive, strong on quality and service, and well worth a visit. Apart from the plants, it has a high quality, reasonably priced cafeteria that attracts its own clientele (who naturally buy a few plants while there!). Ashwood is a place, just off the Wolverhampton-Kidderminster road near Kingswinford. It's well signed for the coaches it attracts - just take care in the narrow lanes.