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TOPIC: Tourist attractions in the West Midlands

Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381795

  • Parksy
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Not exactly the prettiest part of the world but the West Midlands has a wealth of attractions such as museums, industrial heritage sites and even an 11th century castle in the heart of the Black Country, once the industrial power house of the industrial revolution.
The countryside is never too far away from the urban centres and a good well recommended top class touring park to use as a base has has to be Stanmore Hall, Bridgnorth.
The Georgian market town of Bridgnorth on the River Severn is really two towns, High Town and Low Town with the famous Victorian cliff railway connecting the two.
Still in Bridgnorth is the station terminus and workshop of the Severn Valley Railway, one of the country's premier preserved heritage steam railways.
Not far away from Bridgnorth, between Bewdley and Kidderminster is the West Midlands Safari Park where you can get up close and personal with wild animals with your car, don't forget to retract the car radio aerial or the monkeys will steal it!
Still with the wild animal theme there's the world famous Dudley Zoo complete with the remains of the towns Norman castle which was knocked about a bit by Cromwell's men during the English Civil War.
The zoo has many animals to have a good look at and to take pictures of, and a climb up inside the castle keep offers magnificent views across the surrounding counties on clear days.
Near to Dudley Castle is the ever popular Black Country Living Museum, a reconstructed Black Country town complete with canal system, an old fashioned pub, a proper fish and chip shop, a chapel, shops, houses and even trams and factories, a coal mine which you can go down, a replica beam engine powered by a steam engine similar to the first one ever used for pumping water from mines which was erected by James Watt Newcomen in my home town of Tipton in1860 forges and nailmaking sheds, all of which which commemorate the rich industrial heritage of the Black Country where I grew up and where I still live. Don't forget to take the narrowboat trip from the BCLM through the Dudley Canal tunnel network underneath Castle Hill to see the old limestone workings which honeycombed the area not so long ago.
I have a few friends who work at the BCLM which is about two miles from where I live.
A similar museum is not far away in Ironbridge, again with it's reconstructed town and industrial heritage at Blists Hill & Ironbridge Gorge, a veritable feast of industrial heritage for those interested in the time when Britain and more especially the West Midlands was the workshop of the world.
Last but not least and offering free admission is Cosford Aerospace Museum which houses a unique collection of aircraft, missiles and flying machines of all eras and designs.
I haven't scratched the surface of the rich variety of things to do in an area that is often bottom of the tourism agenda, most of what I've listed is possibly a bit 'blokey' but there's the newly regenerated Birmingham City Centre with it's top of the range shopping centre, the bars and cafes of the canal basin hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the streets, the Sea Life Centre and of course the famous Birmingham Jewelery Quarter where everything from enamel lapel badges to sparkling gold and diamond necklaces are still made and sold by the industrious Brummies.
None of the above are more than 1 hours drive from each other, there's a lot to see in a relatively small area.
If anyone is considering a visit to the West Midlands I hope that I've provided some food for thought, and if you need any further advice re: campsites or directions don't hesitate to ask.
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Last Edit: 5 years 2 months ago by Parksy.
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381806

  • ProfJohnL
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Hello Parksy

I can confirm the West Midlands does have a lot to offer. just like to correct one factual error, The steam powered water pump at the BCLM was constructed by Newcomen, not James watt.

For any one interested it was a beam engine with a single vertical power cyclinder on one side, and a water lifting device on the other to drain the mine. Technically it didn't use steam pressure to drive the engine, but it relied on atmospheric pressure.

At this time the engineers had not developed the large high pressure boilers, so the engines derived their power by using steam at just about atmospheric pressure. As the piston moved and increased the cylinder volume, a valve was opened to allow steam to be drawn into the cylinder. as the cylinder reach maximum volume, the steam valve was closed, and a smaller amount of cold water let into the cylinder. This rapidly cooled the steam which tried to condense which also reduces its volume. This lowered the pressure in the cylinder to below atmospheric, so the surrounding air pressure the forces the piston down. This is the power stroke, and is what provided the energy to pump the water out of the mines.

Its the same process as the imploding can often used to demonstrate the power of atmospheric pressure to school children, except the can is replaced by a variable volume cylinder and piston.

Interestingly Newcomen was a lay preacher. Dr Robert Sterling was a reverend who invented the Sterling cycle engine. And the author of the railway books which spawned Thomas The Tank engine was the Reverend Wilbert Awdry. Incidentally he spent some time at St. Nicholas' Church, Kings Norton so there's another West Mids connection. It makes me wonder, Why did the clergy seem to have such an insight into things mechanical?
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381809

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Thanks John, you are correct it was a Newcomen engine, erected at a place once known as Coneygre near what later became the sports ground for Palethorpes meat products and now a youth centre just up the road from here.
Perhaps the clergy, particularly in the West Midlands where religion when it was practiced was largely non conformist, had lots of time on their hands to ponder scientific theories :)
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381931

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Parksy, you must have been a Tourist Information officer in a previous lifetime! What a well-written and informative piece about your part of the country. I have been to the Ironbridge Gorge museum and the Black Country museum, both fascinating places to visit, and they are the sort of venues worth going back for another look at a later stage, as these 'living museums' have a habit of growing and developing, so there is always something new to see.

When I'm feeling a bit brighter I shall see if I can do an as effective job of selling Wiltshire as a 'must see' area!
Behold, Baroness Barmy and Princess Wotamess join the Woosie Round Table  (It's ok, you don't have to curtsey or anything)
 
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381971

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Thanks for the nice comments Cynth, you are too kind :blush:
The Black Country was often portrayed as a grimy industrial urban dump, it is sometimes still shown in this poor light by some sections of the media, but I'm proud to be a Blackcountryman and over the years I've grown to love the rich heritage and the warmth and friendliness of those who live here.
There's a lot to see and do if you know where to look, and I'll look forward to reading all about Wiltshire when you are feeling better. :)
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381990

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I think the reason the West Midlands tends to get put at the bottom of most peoples' 'must see' areas is that the majority of us only see the area from the motorway system, where the outlook is, um, not terribly scenic! ( I saw plenty of it when I was ferrying my daughter up and down to Manchester Uni about 15 years or so ago!)

Visitors will get a completely differerent perspective on the area if they swap their cars for a narrowboat and take to the canal system. Amazing! Ok, still some rather dingy bits through which to navigate, but you learn so much more by exploring different transport systems. No doubt a completely different outlook will be seen from the Severn Valley Railway too; one I definitely mean to explore next time I'm in the area!
Behold, Baroness Barmy and Princess Wotamess join the Woosie Round Table  (It's ok, you don't have to curtsey or anything)
 
Gobur Carousel 10/2T with Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSi DSG 105PS  Estate
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #381994

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I must agree Parksy, that the BCLM is one of the best of its genre that I've seen. We visited last November for the first time, and will be returning in a couple of weeks time. We'll actually be en route from South Wales to Dover, but we never do anything the easy way! :unsure:

It's better in a Royale!
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #382026

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I hope that you have a lovely time at the Black Country Living Museum Emmerson, I really must take my other half there because even though we live only a few minutes away she's never been.
The museum have now started to develop the gardens at the back of the houses and there are the usual attractions such as the brass foundry, coal mine and the Newcomen engine which will be working over the weekend of 19th-21st April.
Apparently the chips from the reconstructed Hobb's Fish Restaurant are very good indeed, cooked the old traditional way in beef dripping.
When Hobb's stood in Dudley before being taken down brick by brick to be moved to the museum we used to go there a lot as teenagers in the 1960s, and the women who worked there then would always put lots of 'batters', the small pieces of batter from the bottom of the fryer, with our chips, lovely!
If you go on the boat trip through the Dudley Canal Tunnel to see the limestone workings it's probably not a good idea to wear your best coat because water mixed with limestone clay often drips from the roof of the tunnel as you pass through on the electric narrowboat, especially the part where you can lay back on planks to 'leg' the boat along using your feet on the tunnel wall to push the boat along which is how it was always done.
The Severn Valley Railway offers some lovely views as you pass through the picturesque river valley, there are a few good camp sites in that area and if you fancy adding a bit more interest and authenticity I can definitely recommend a visit during one of the two SVR Wartime Weekends over the last weekend in June and the first weekend in July.
We often pop along in our 1940s finery to take part, don't forget the camera Cynth!
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Last Edit: 1 year 2 months ago by Parksy.
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #382036

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We tried the chip shop last time,Parksy. They were fantastic .Sadly, I suffer from claustrophobia, so cannot "do" the tunnel, but there are so many other things to see that i won't cry, honest!

It's better in a Royale!
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Tourist attractions in the West Midlands 5 years 2 months ago #382057

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Shan't forget to take the camera Parksy, but I just wish I could work out how to upload my piccies onto the new laptop! With my old one I got a nice helpful message saying 'What do you want to do with these images?' with some prompts thereafter such as 'upload them onto my computer' This Toshiba doesn't give me any clues whatsoever as to how to transfer the pictures into a folder! Anyway, I digress......

Beef dripping???? Yeuk! Thanks for the warning about the chip shop, I'm a veggie, so will be giving that one a miss! Now, there's a challenge, get some 40s togs up together for one of the museum events! Sounds great fun!

Last time I went for a ride through the Dudley Tunnel I had a terrible fit of the collywobbles; I'd just been reading an historical/ghosty novel about the tunnels in the area! I was VERY pleased to see daylight again!
Behold, Baroness Barmy and Princess Wotamess join the Woosie Round Table  (It's ok, you don't have to curtsey or anything)
 
Gobur Carousel 10/2T with Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSi DSG 105PS  Estate
Last Edit: 5 years 2 months ago by CyberCynth.
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