Sunday, 30 December 2012

Black Country Living Museum 2013 Events

Events 2013
Spring Season

Saturday 16 – Sunday 24 February
February Half Term
This February half term enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage. The Museum will be open daily during this week 10.00am – 4.00pm. See for further details.

Sunday 10 March
Mother's Day
Treat your Mum to a special day out with a visit to the Museum. As a Mother’s Day special, tickets are HALF PRICE for Mums when accompanied by a paying child (any age). Join in crafting activities for all ages and have a go at making your mum a unique home made gift. Enjoy an extra special treat with a mother’s day lunch in the Workers Institute Café.

Saturday 28 March – Sunday 14 April
Easter Activities
Celebrate spring at the Museum with ‘Hands on Heritage’ and fun family activities.

For more information on activities visit

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Sunday 31 March
Easter Sunday
Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum and enjoy an Easter Sunday service in the historic Darby Hand Chapel. The service will begin at 2.30pm. For this activity, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

Monday 6 May
May Day

May Day celebrations get off to a flying start as Maypole dancing weaves its magic. Professional dancers demonstrate the age-old tradition accompanied by live music. Visitors can join in the fun and have a go at being a maypole dancer.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Sunday 12 May (date tbc)
Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Service

Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum and enjoy 'A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon' service in the Museum's historic Darby Hand Chapel. The Methodist Chapel was built as Providence Church in 1837 at Darby Hand in Netherton, Dudley.
The afternoon commemorates a special service originated by John Blackham of West Bromwich who in the 19th century was a leading light in the religious life of the town. The Friends of the Museum recreate this important aspect of Black Country life when they re-enact the 'Pleasant Sunday Afternoon'.
The service will begin at 2.30pm.
For this activity, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

Saturday 18 May
Night at the Museum

Join the Black Country Living Museum in its annual celebration ‘Night at the Museum’ when along with hundreds of European museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites, it will open its doors after hours for this special evening event at half the usual admission price.
As dusk falls, the Museum will be illuminated by gas and candlelight offering an atmospheric setting for a family night out. Visitors can enjoy musical entertainers; street performers, choirs singing, brass bands and much more! Tuck in to tasty traditional food and drink and enjoy an evening full of traditional family entertainment.
*This is a pre-purchase only event. Book HALF PRICE tickets for Night at the Museum online at or call 0121 520 8054

Saturday 25 May- Sunday 31 May
June half term
Enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage.

See for further details.

June ( Date tbc)
The Lord Chamberlains Men
Building on the success of last year’s performance, the Black Country Living Museum welcomes the return of The Lord Chamberlains Men to perform Shakespeare’s
Enjoy out door theatre at its best!
See for further details

Sunday 16 June
Father's Day

Treat your Dad to a special day out with a visit to the Museum. As a Father’s Day special, tickets are HALF PRICE for all Dads when accompanied by a paying child (any age). Travel back in time on a vintage tram, see the vintage cars and bikes on display, kit your dad out with a new flat cap or outfit at Morralls’, the 1930s Gentlemen’s Outfitters. Make a fuss of Dad and buy him a pint of real Black Country ale in the Bottle & Glass Inn and a traditionally cooked fish and chip dinner at Hobbs’ and Sons fish and chip shop. For an extra special treat, you could enjoy a father’s day lunch in the Workers Institute Café.

Saturday 20 July - Sunday 21 July
1940’s Weekend
Spend the weekend living life as it was in the 1940’s

Including evening of 1940s entertainment, the Museum's village will be full of 40s spirit, street performers and musical entertainment. Visitors can join in and dress up or simply experience what it was like to live and party in the 40s.

*This is a pre-purchase ticket only event, for more details visit or call 0121 520 8054

Sunday 28 July
Festival of Black Country Vehicles
This annual gathering of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles sees over one hundred Black Country made vehicles driving around the Museum.
The Black Country was a major centre for vehicle manufacturing with cycles, motorcycles, cars, lorries and buses all built in the region. Visitors can see first hand well-known historical names such as AJS, Bean, Star, Sunbeam and Jensen. This names just a few of the automotive marques that put Black Country manufacturing on the map.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 27 July – Sunday 1 September
Summer Holiday Activities

Enjoy fun family activities and hands on heritage.

See for further details.

Saturday 17 August
HALF PRICE Family Night*

Make the most of the long summer evenings and enjoy a Saturday night of traditional family entertainment when the Museum opens its doors after hours for half the usual admission price.
The Museum is brought to life with musical entertainment and street performers and much more. Enjoy a pint of real ale and sing along with the pianist in the Bottle and Glass Inn or tuck into the tasty fish and chips – cooked 1930s style.
*This is a pre-purchase ticket only event. All Museum tickets half price. Pre-purchase tickets online at or call 0121 520 8054

Saturday 7 September
The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall
Free Open Day*

As part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme, the Locksmith’s House will throw open its doors giving visitors the opportunity to explore the house and workshops for free. Demonstrations will bring the house and workshops to life and provides a chance to see the only surviving lock-maker’s house and workshop in Willenhall, which was once the UK’s, lock-making capital. Explore the home of the Hodson family of lock makers, who first lived here over a century ago and soak up the atmosphere of the gas lit rooms. Hear the clatter of belt driven machinery in the workshop and find out more about the trade that made Willenhall famous. There will also be a chance to chat to the Locksmith's House archivist about work behind the scenes. Drop in any time between 10am and 4pm to explore this unique home and workplace.
*Please note this event is not at Black Country Living Museum, and takes place at The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall.

Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 September
Historic Boaters Gathering

The canal at the Museum village plays host to a gathering of traditional working narrow boats. Cargoes will be transported around the Museum's canal and volunteers will demonstrate the way people used to live on the boats. Enjoy traditional musical entertainment and crafting activities.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 19 October
Breaking Chains – commemorating the women chainmakers’ strike of 1910
The Museum recalls the fight of the Cradley Heath women chainmakers, who went on strike for several weeks in 1910 and were successful in winning the first ever minimum wage.
The day will feature a procession of flags, street entertainment, music, crafting activities and theatre from local performers along with stirring speeches. This annual event will ensure the legacy of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers lives on.
Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Thursday 31 October
Halloween Evening
Halloween at the Museum*

This Halloween, visit the Museum’s eerie gas-lit village where little devils and mini ghosts and ghouls can trick or treat in SAFETY along the Museum’s cobbled streets, collecting sweets as they go. Come along in fancy dress and join the musical parade through the Museum's village and you could win a prize for best dressed adult or child.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Winter Season

Tuesday 5 November
Traditional Bonfire Night*

A family-orientated Bonfire Night celebrates November 5th with roaring bonfires and traditional entertainment with the added safety of no fireworks. Visitors can enjoy traditional hot roast chestnuts, toffee apples, fire juggling, musical entertainers, join in and sing along with the pianist in the Bottle & Glass Inn and enjoy the fairground in full swing. The Museum's canal-side village will be lit up with atmospheric candle and gas-lights and visitors can enjoy chatting to characters from yesteryear, the night will be kicked off with a Guy Fawkes doll and theatrical lighting of the fire.
Please note, The evening has the added safety of no fireworks.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Monday 11 November
Remembrance Service
Springfield Brewery War Memorial

The Springfield Brewery war memorial honours former employees who both served and lost their lives in both world wars. It will be at the centre of a Remembrance Service to be held at 10.30 am at the Black Country Living Museum.

Book a day visit online and save 10% at

Saturday 23, Sunday 24 November, Saturday 30 November & Sunday 2 Dec, Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 , Saturday 14 & Sunday 15, Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 December , Monday, 23 December, Tuesday, 2 December
Santa Hunt *

The highly popular Santa Hunts are a big hit with children and parents alike. As children embark upon a fun-filled search for Santa costumed guides and magical Christmas clues point the way to Santa's workshop culminating in a surprise gift.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Pre-purchase your tickets by calling the bookings office on 0121 520 8054

Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December
The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall
Christmas at home with the Edwardians

Experience an Edwardian style Christmas when the Locksmith's House opens its doors for this rare event. Christmas at home with the Edwardians is an evening of traditional Christmas activities and entertainment including carol singing and story telling by the open fire place, mince pies, mulled wine and hot roast chestnuts.
*Please note this is a pre-purchase ticket only event and takes place at The Locksmith’s House, Willenhall not at Black Country Living Museum. To pre-purchase tickets call the bookings office on 0121 520 8054.

Thursday 19 – Monday 23 December
Traditional Christmas Evenings*

The Museum takes on a festive flavour as cottages are illuminated by gas and candlelight, giving off a distinctly magical glow.
Enjoy traditional Christmas entertainment including; carol singing, Black Country comedic panto, street entertainers, brass bands, sing along with the pianist in the Bottle & Glass Inn, hot roast chestnuts and mulled wine. Don’t forget to say hello to Santa by the fireside.
*This is a pre purchase only event. Book your tickets online or call 0121 520 8054

Sunday 22 December
Carols by Candlelight **
Visitors are invited to join the Friends of the Museum as they bring the 1837 Darby Hand Chapel to life for a traditional candlelit carol service, conjuring up all the atmosphere of Christmas' past. Starting at 2.30pm the service takes place in the Museum's historic Darby Hand Chapel and includes 5 lessons and 10 carols within the service. For this event, there is a limited amount of seating and places will need to be pre-booked**

**Tickets for all chapel events are available in advance by contacting Alan Carter on 01902 670402 (Limited availability).

Regular Activities

The Museum has a programme of regular activities run by specialist teams of volunteers. These activities include the showcasing of our vintage car and motorbike collection, running of gas and steam engines and living history weekends. For more information and dates of our regular activities please visit

Newcomen in Steam

See the only full sized working replica of Newcomen’s steam engine of 1712 in steam and chat to the staff and volunteers who run the engine. Easter weekend, Sat- Mon, 30-31 March, 1 April, Saturday and Sunday 20-21 April, May Day Holiday: Saturday - Monday, 4-6 May, Spring Bank Holiday: Sat-Mon, 25-27 May, June: Sat-Sun, 15-16 June, July: Saturday & Sunday, 6-7 July, Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 July, Saturday and Sunday, 3-4 August, Summer Bank Holiday: Saturday to Monday, 24-26 August, Sat-Sun, 21-22 September, October: Sat-Sun, 12-13 October Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 October

President in steam
See steam narrowboat President in steam, chat to the Friends of President and learn about the President's history.
27 & 28 July, and every weekend through August.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tracing the BMVA

I have previously posted this photograph on the blog. It is a wonderful old photo of naval veterans taken somewhere in Birmingham, probably in the early 20th century.

One of the old salts in the photograph is my late Uncle Harry's great grandfather, Henry Townley, though I don't recall which one.

Henry was born in Treadworth, Gloucestershire in the late 1830s. We know he was very tall as Harry once said they couldn't get his coffin down the stairs of the Vesper Bell pub in Ledsam Street which was run by his son-in-law Albert Lee from around 1900, so they lowered him in his coffin out of an upstairs window.

The man on the far right back row could therefore be a contender although another gentleman two places to his right (our left) looks facially like Uncle Harry.

On many of their caps are the initials BMV. In the past I have searched lists of 19th century naval vessels but not been able to find anything relating to BMV. Given Henry's approximate date of birth I have generally speculated that he might have seen some action as a young man in the Crimean War of the 1850s.

By pure chance I came across this photograph today on a blog called The Iron Room (Birmingham Archives and Heritage Blog).

The photo was posted by Michael Hunkin, Archivist (Warwickshire Photographic Survey) and shows, to quote Michael Hunkin:

"  Dated 1894, it is likely the photograph relates to the formation of the Birmingham Military Veteran’s Association that year. It was set up to aid local survivors of the Crimean Wars and Indian Mutiny and can be seen a predecessor to the larger veteran’s organisations set up after the First World War that were eventually amalgamated to form the Royal British Legion in May 1921.

The three men at the front were veterans of the Crimean War and survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the near-suicidal cavalry charge by 600 men against Russian artillery that left 118 dead and 127 wounded. Although the tactical reasoning behind the action has been hotly questioned, the heroism of the men who went into the ‘Valley of Death’ became the stuff of legend, inspiring a famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson and the epic film of 1968.

The book ‘Balaclava Heroes’ (2008) by Christopher Poole pieced together the lives of several Midlands survivors of this conflict. Perhaps these unidentified men include John Parkinson, who later joined the Birmingham police, and John Howes, a Digbeth-based boot repairer who in 1890 claimed £15 from the Light Brigade Relief Fund. Both men were in fact co-founders of the BMVA.

The mixed fortunes of military servicemen adjusting to civilian life after witnessing the horror of armed conflict have been documented throughout the nation’s history, be they wounded survivors of the English Civil War, shellshock victims of the trenches, or veterans of present day conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  "

Christopher Poole added further information identifying the three veterans at the front of the parade:

Front Row…L to R…John Howes (4th Light Dragoons)… John Parkinson (11th Hussars), carrying the Union Jack, Edwin Hughes (13th Light Dragoons). Christopher J Poole, author, Balaclava Heroes (2008)

Visit the Iron Room Blog

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Payne Family in the 20th Century

The information in the preceding post tells us about the coach company set up by Frederick and Mary Payne which it seems started in Aston as Payne's Coaches, but was later divided into two seperate companies run by Patrick Payne (Payne's Coaches in Perry Barr) and his brother Frederick Payne (Ashted Coaches in Kitts Green).

The 1901 Cesnsus above shows the family of Frederick and Mary J Payne (nee. Finn) living at 27 Pritchett Street in Birmingham.
Frederick Payne - aged 30, grover / glass cutter, born in Coventry
Mary J - aged 30, grocer, shop keeper on own account, born Birmingham
Florence aged 2
Lizzie aged 8 months
Also in the house is James Finn, a widower, father of Mary J, former brick layer's labourer born in Ireland

The 1911 Census above shows the family of Frederick and Mary (nee. Finn) living at 83 Hatchett Street in Birmingham:

Frederick Payne - 40 years old, glass cutter, married 22 years
Mary Jane Payne - 39 years old, had 14 children, 9 had died and 5 alive

Elizabeth, aged 10
Patrick, aged 8
Frederick, aged 5
Janey, aged 3
Jeneviene, 1.5

Also living with the Payne family is James Finn whom we know was Mary Jane's father. A 73 widower born in Galway and retired brick layer's labourer.

In 1912 Frederick Payne is registered on the Birmingham Electoral Register still living at 83 Hatchett Street.

In 1930 and 1935 we find Patrick and Elizabeth Payne registered at 95 Lower Tower Street and Frederick and Olive Payne at 98 Lower Tower Street.

Payne's Coaches

As far back as I remember, Dad's sister Kath (Robinson) would tell us stories from family history going back to her Birmingham childhood in the 1920s and even beyond that in terms of oral history passed on through previous generations. It was Kath who inspired my own interest in family history. One of the people she would recall with warmth was a lady named Mary Jane Payne, nee. Finn who was her own grandmother's first cousin. Kath spoke of Mary Payne owning a coach travel company which went under two names: Paynes Coaches and Danny Boy Coaches.

Another photo from Mr Payne's 1997 article about Payne's Coaches. On the side of one of these we can make out the name Danny Boy Coaches - an indication of Mary Payne, nee. Finn's Irish connections.

Ian recently told me:

"This photo was taken on the land where the Alexander stadium now stands in Perry Barr park - must be mid 1950's. The coaches were green and cream, an indication of the family's Irish tradition."

The third and final section of Mr Payne's article, showing another photo of one of the coaches and an advertising poster for Payne's Comfort Luxury Coaches.

Ian told me:

"The luxury coach to the left was a Commer Avenger with a Plaxton frame, reg plate KOC527. One of grandads newer coaches. His brother also had coaches as well under the name if Ashted Coaches, I think their garage was in Lea Marston. The
address on this of 95 Lower Tower Street was grandad's home address".

Ian's grandfather was Patrick Payne and his brother who ran Ashted Coaches was Frederick Payne. Patrick married Elzabeth Tongue and Frederick married Olivia Agnes McHale.

There is evidence that Patrick and Frederick were siblings in the following family of Mary Jane Finn (aka Mary Ann Finn) from Birmingham of Irish parents and Frederick Payne from Coventry:

Hannah  1888/92 - 1901
Rose born 1892
Florence born 1899
Elizabeth born 1901
Patrick ( 1902 - 1972 )
Frederick ( 1906 - 1968 )
Jane ( 1907/8 - 1922 )
Jenevive born 1909
Michael ( 1911/2 - 1968 )