Peaky Country

May 14, 2022

Today we visited the Black Country Living Museum which is an open air collection of buildings, houses, and stores from the 1850s to 1950s. Many of the buildings have been relocated from their original places in the nearby boroughs. The best part about this museum is that Peaky Blinders was filmed here!


When we first entered, we looked around where one of the mine shafts were. The historians there were dressed in time piece clothing and gave us a lot of information about the Black Country. From the historian dressed as a miner, we learned about how this area had a very large coal mining industry. In the 1850s, workers had a pretty bad deal; they would work 12 hours a day, make only a pound a week, and be exposed to all sorts of dangers down there. Up until Queen Victoria banned it, women were down there right alongside with the men. The reason she banned women down there was because it was so hot in the mines that the women took off their shirts just as the men did.

Dangers inside the mines include mine collapse, heavy dust, spontaneous combustion of gasses and coal, and more. Men would be lucky to reach 30 or 40. Another mining historian demonstrated how people, named Mad Micks, would set fire to gas before it becomes a problem. The only sort of protection Mad Micks had were water soaked cloths. To show how water keeps the flame off of the skin, the historian set fire to his own hand! It was such an engaging experience.

Another booming industry in the black country was chain making. The chain makers were more skilled than your average blacksmith because they needed to complete years of apprenticeship to learn the trade. A really cool fact is that the Black Country was so known for their chains that they were tasked with making the chain for the Titanic. Each link weighted half a ton. The historian there joked about their effectiveness in keeping the Titanic in place where it is (:o). After learning about the chains, we saw a demo of how they were made back then. It was not at all what I thought it would be like. It also seems like this line of work would be much better than the mines.


On our walk through the historical town, we went into a school. I learned that it used to cost 2 pennies to enter, and if you didn’t have that, you would be punished in front of the class and made to apologize to the teacher.

Handwriting was very important back then. People would use pot hooks and hanger shapes to make their letters. While learning, you would use a slate and slate pen, and then as you got better, you wrote on paper. Your job options would judge you based on how well you write.

Then, we went down by the canal where I peeked inside the living cabin of one. This tiny tiny room would’ve fit 2 adults and 2, possibly more, kids.

The norm used to be that people would be hired to work the boats and then live on the shore. When people realized it was much cheaper to live and run the boat with their families, that is what they did. There could be 3 generations of people on one boat even. The increased amount of people on the boat led to inspectors checking how many people were on board. If you are caught with too many, families could lose their jobs (which is also their house). In order to avoid this, parents would have kids hop off down steam from the inspection point, run along the brush, and hop back on after inspection.

For lunch, I ate delicious fish and chips from Hobb’s!

After lunch, we ventured to a cinema from 1921. Back in the day, the cinema would show a silent movie on the screen and someone would play music below. The show we watched reminded me of The Three Stooges with it’s slapstick comedy.

This trip was so informative about what life was back then. If I was a wife to a miner back then, my and my children’s livelihoods would depend on that miner. If he didn’t come back home or was hurt on the job, I would have no life insurance, support, housing, or income. This was the reality for so many people during this time period and it makes me appreciate how far we have come since. I’m thankful that this experience opened my eyes about how lucky I am to enjoy this life.

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