Explore Dudley and the Black Country
Just over half an hour away from the city centre lies Dudley and the Black Country, home of our Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry. Said to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s Mordor, the area is full of history, with plenty to see and do.
People living in Birmingham call those from the Black Country “yam yams,” a term coined from the Black Country dialect saying “yow’am” meaning “you are.” The area even has its own alphabet!
But even more iconic than the dialect, are the orange chips! Also known as battered chips, these are a staple in the Black Country and not to be missed.
1. Black Country Living Museum
Dudley’s number one visitor attraction is the open-air Black Country Living Museum. With over 50 authentic shops, houses, and workshops across 26 acres, it tells the story of the Black Country, one of the first industrialised landscapes in Britain. Visit the Victorian schoolroom, enjoy fish and chips and speak to costumed characters.
Fans of Peaky Blinders may recognise some familiar filming locations from the popular Birmingham series, including Charlie’s yard. The Black Country Museum even hosts regular Peaky Blinders nights, so you can get dressed up and follow in the footsteps of your favourite characters.
2. Dudley Zoo and Castle
Opened in 1937, the zoological gardens sit on the grounds of the 11th century castle ruins and is home to more than 1,300 animals spanning around 200 species. Get closer to some of the world’s rarest animals, watch talks and feeds, and learn about the zoo’s conservation efforts all while roaming the grounds of the castle.
3. Dudley Museum at the Archives
Next door to the Black Country Museum, you’ll find the Archives where you can explore Dudley’s history all the way back to the dinosaurs! It's also the headquarters for the Black Country Global Geopark, a partnership between Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils to showcase the area’s hidden gems, which was certified by UNESCO in 2020.
4. Dudley Canals
If you enjoyed exploring Birmingham’s canal network, you might want to try Dudley’s two canals. Spanning 10 miles between them, and closely linked with the Black Country Museum, boating along the canals will give you a deeper appreciation of the region’s industrial history.
5. Himley Hall
Set over 180 acres of parkland, Himley Hall is a grade II, 18th-century listed building that was home to the Earls of Dudley for over four centuries. Today, it houses exhibitions and puts on events throughout the year.
6. The Leasowes
Designed by poet William Shenstone in the mid-18th century, the Leasowes is considered one of the first natural landscape gardens in England. Today it is Grade I listed and features on English Heritage’s list of Parks and Gardens of Historical Interest.
7. Merry Hill
If you want to hit the shops, head over to Brierley Hill where you’ll find the Merry Hill centre. It’s easy to get to by bus or car and offers plenty of free parking. There are three floors packed with much-loved high street brands alongside a cinema and food court, so it’s the perfect place to shop till you drop or sit back and relax.
To make a day of it, why not visit Castlegate Park once you’re done at the Zoo or the Black Country Museum? Featuring a Showcase Cinema, Tenpin bowling and fast food chains and restaurants to suit everyone, there’s plenty to do while you’re in the area. Or, if it’s sweet treats you’re interested in, the popular Little Dessert Shop has just opened up a branch in Dudley town centre.