Cradley at the Black Country Living Museum

This page is published with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

From June 2009, the Black Country Living Museum hosted a new exhibition by the Cradley Then & Now local history group. The exhibition was held in the Museum's new community display space. It opened on 12th June 2009, and continued into 2010.

Visitors were able to view historic photographs of the people of Cradley, as well as chains, tools and other artefacts from their working lives. Many of the items are in private hands, so this was a rare opportunity to enjoy them on public display.

The exhibition was accompanied by a commentary that explains the importance of our dialect, the Black Country, the Ragged Schools, Mary Macarthur, hop picking, chain making and many other other topics. This is all to the background noises of chain makers at work and the songs of Cradley's own minstrel Bev Pegg. You can listen to the soundtrack on our Songs, Stories and Poems page.

Jill Guest, Treasurer of the Cradley Then & Now Group, said, "the Cradley Then & Now group are delighted to have staged this exhibition on the rich history of Cradley & its chain makers at the Black Country Museum. Visitors were able to learn more about the people who made Cradley into one of the chain making centres of the World, and see some of their chains and tools.

We invite anyone, of any age, who would like to contribute to our heritage project to contact us through this web site."

Black Country Museum: chain making demonstration in chain shop based on the Cruddas chain shop from Cradley Heath.

The Workers' Institute: the "Stute", moved from Lomey Town in Cradley Heath to the Museum

More about the Black Country Living Museum

The award-winning Museum is home to historic buildings from all around the Black Country that have been moved and authentically rebuilt at the Museum, to create a tribute to the traditional skills and enterprise of the people that once lived in the heart of industrial Britain.

Throughout the Museum working demonstrations take place from time to time in some of the many workshops and small factories. The most regular is the chainmaker who can be seen almost every day plying his trade in the chain shop at the side of the rolling mill, behind the bakery. The Black Country was world famous for the production of chains of all sizes and much of it produced entirely by hand on small forges such as the ones you can see.

The Museum's new community exhibition area, 'The Black Country and You', is available on application by interested groups who have a story to tell. If you would like to know more, please contact

More about Cradley Heritage Project

The Cradley Then & Now Heritage Project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project runs from June 2009 - December 2010.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £49,700 to the Project to bring about the recording of local Black Country history.

Through the project the community will be rediscovering Cradley's diverse past. Cradley Then and Now group leaders have mapped out a 16 month programme to involve all generations in exploring the History of Cradley and its People; Cradley at Work and Play; and Cradley at War.

The organisers will be encouraging people to have their memories of Cradley recorded on film to share with others in a series of movies on the history of the village. Read more...

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Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

The HLF gives grants to a wide range of projects involving the local, regional and national heritage of the United Kingdom. HLF distributes a share of the money raised by the National Lottery for Good Causes. It enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage.

From museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots, or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up the nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy.

HLF invests £208 million a year in new projects in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Since 1994 HLF has supported over 30,000 projects allocating over £4.5 billion across the UK.