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Day 8 of our England trip was devoted to the Black Country Living Museum, recreating times and spaces of the Industrial Revolution. The presence of coal was a primary force behind the Industrial Revolution.

Chimney with black smoke

A coal fire produces black smoke from the chimney

Our main reason for visiting this museum was to get a good look at a replica of the original Newcomen steam engine.

Steam engine replica

Working replica of the world’s first steam engine. The original was built in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen less than a mile from the Black Country Living Museum.

Detail of the steam engine

A detail of the steam engine

An unexpected highlight of the day was the tour of the limestone mines. The canal system that provided transportation throughout England (another major contributor to the Industrial Revolution) went right into the mine to transport limestone to where it was needed. Without a ledge, horses couldn’t be used to pull the canal boats in the tunnels. Instead, men “legged” the boat along, laying on their backs and walking along the ceiling or wall.

Tunnel with boat and tourists in hard hats

Dudley Canal Tunnel & Limestone Mines, hard hat tour in a narrowboat

Chains were a big need during the Industrial Revolution, so there were many chain makers in the region. Lots of them were backyard workshops with the whole family involved. Women made smaller chains and children helped as well.

making a chain link

Chain maker, working on a link

The Black Country Living Museum is a lively re-creation of a Victorian space, complete with cute shops, but less romantic then many displays about that timeperiod since it focuses on the hard work and black smoke of the early industrial age.




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