Dudley’s Black Country Living Museum – home to the UK’s only 3”6’ on street tramway – have announced ambitious plans for a major expansion of the museum which would include an extension to the tramway to form a circular route around the site. The plans are all part of a 10 year vision which would seek to create a world class visitor attraction welcoming 500,000 visitors per year by 2022.
The vision – known as BCLM: Forging Ahead – would include a new entrance on Castle Hill, a new visitor centre, a bustling 1940s-1960s town, a manufacturing and making zone and a new learning centre in addition to an expanded tramway. It is planned that the tramway would operate in a figure of 8 around the museum.
The Museum would require £10 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help bring this vision to reality and to this end they are currently preparing a formal bid. The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership have just pledged their support for the expansion which would create 60 new jobs and 29 apprentices.
The Black Country Living Museum currently has an operational fleet of two trams – Wolverhampton & District 34 which operates the majority of services and double decker Wolverhampton 49 – with a further tram (Dudley, Stourbridge & District 5) currently away in Wales undergoing a full overhaul. If the tramway is expanded and visitor numbers increase at the museum whether more trams will need to be restored to serviceable condition is unclear but there are further trams on site which could eventually be chosen for restoration if necessary.