Review: Peaky Blinders @ the Black Country Living Museum
On Wednesday – “by order of the Peaky f*****g Blinders” – I walked in the footsteps of the Shelbys as I visited the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) in Dudley to learn more about the real-life inspiration for the BBC hit-series and see for myself some of the on-screen locations used throughout the show.
Specifically placed on the outskirts of Birmingham to tell the story of the World’s first industrial landscape, the BCLM is a lot more than just a Museum. Boasting a large plot of 26-acres, it is the third largest open-air museum in the UK; swapping the traditional gallery-style silent corridors and high ceilings, for a real-life early-19th century village filled with cobbled streets and brick houses.
In fact, the only reminder that you haven’t actually taken the trip back in time is the entrance to the BCLM itself, which boasts a cafe and gift shop within which you can purchase Peaky Blinders merchandise; including the signature flat caps and fake razor blades.
Also available on arrival at the museum, is a ‘Peaky Blinders Filming Location Map’. Although filled with spoilers, the map shows you the key spots used for filming during the series; including the boat dock (used during S1:E1 as Tommy first rides into town); the canal street bridge (Ada and Freddie’s secret meeting place) and the Blacksmith’s shop (the location of many Peaky Blinder’s gatherings). Additionally, the map also boasts a quote from Mr Shelby himself, Cillian Murphy, who said:
“[BCLM] was amazing, what they have done in terms of keeping the heritage and keeping the atmosphere of the time-it’s brilliant. And a very important location to us- I’m sure we’ll be back”
As the self-proclaimed “Home of the Peaky Blinders”, the BCLM perfectly reflects the 1920’s lifestyle with traditional houses, shops and even a village school; all of which you can explore to experience for yourself how the Shelbys would have lived. Live actors dressed in traditional period clothing enhance the museums atmosphere, from the eccentric yet firm school teacher to the bumbling tram driver, each boasts a wealth of knowledge of the BCLM and are happy to answer any questions.
A walk through the canal-side village, reveals a lifetime of history with activities for the whole family; including a 1920s Limelight Cinema showcasing the charms of short film; a somewhat derelict fair ground equipped with games such as ‘hook a duck’ and ‘coconut shy’; the Bottle & Glass Inn offering various Black Country ales and the infamous 1930s traditional fish and chip shop with food which must be tasted to be believed.
As traditionally, the ‘Black Country’ refers to a region of the West Midlands covering all four Metropolitan Boroughs: Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton; earning its name due to the plumes of black smoke that polluted the area; the BCLM also offers a unique mining tour experience which allows you to explore the mines for yourself whilst learning the history of coal mining. Although be warned, whilst the experience really brings to life the hard working and dangerous conditions faced by the miners; for those who are not comfortable with confined spaces or the dark, you may want to sit this one out.
On top of all this, purchasing a ticket for the Black Country Living Museum not only helps ensure the museum’s survival it also grants you access for 12-months; allowing you to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of the Black Country all year round. For more information, visit www.bclm.co.uk.