Project information

Bringing BCLM's Colliery To Life

Steam power - the power behind the Industrial Revolution - helped create the world we live in today. By bringing exhibits in the Racecourse Colliery to life, we will demonstrate how steam power sparked the rapid industrialisation of the Black Country, Britain and the World.

January 2017 - August 2017

Charity information: Black Country Living Museum

Black Country Living Museum logo
  • Need


    Important items in our collection, particularly the tub tramway, are at significant risk. Without intervention, these heritage items will further deteriorate and could be lost forever. As the equipment is not operated, the area is often overlooked by visitors so they miss out on the opportunity to learn what the machinery was used for and its importance to the Museum’s story.


    New demonstrations of working exhibits – breathing smoke and steam – will enhance visitors’ knowledge, enjoyment and understanding of our unique industrial heritage. Real life characters will tell the rich stories of those whose lives revolved around the colliery.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Safeguard important heritage items


    » Restore all equipment and machinery in the Racecourse Colliery to operational use

    What success will look like

    Success will be seeing the refurbished exhibits become a regular part of our visitor offer.

    Aim 2

    Our unique industrial heritage is better understood


    » Bring the area to life with living interpretation. Real life characters will tell the stories of those whose lives revolved around the colliery

    What success will look like

    Through an increase in visitor numbers and receiving positive feedback – this will be demonstrated through visitor feedback from TripAdvisor, social media and visitor surveys.

  • Impact


    The project will ensure the long-term future of exhibits in the colliery. We will demonstrate this through an annual maintenance plan. This will allow us to tell further the story of steam, including it in our formal learning offer. For example, marking the James Watt anniversary in 2019 (the stark winding engine incorporates the double acting cylinder and rotary motion as originally devised by Watt). We will monitor visitor feedback to measure the impact on dwell time and visitor experience.


    1. Match funding not achieved. As we have a very successful track record of raising funds for capital projects including most recently £400,000 for a new school reception, we do not anticipate any problems in raising the full amount from fundraising activity. 2. Loss of key personnel. Responsibility for the project will be shared amongst our Senior Management Team. 3. Costs increase over estimates. Contingency identified and included in budget.


    Regular progress reports will be sent to donors with a full project report sent on completion. A dedicated project page on will be regularly updated with photographs and progress. This will be promoted across our social media channels and through emails to supporters.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £215,492

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £11,500 Staffing Project management, admin & consultancy fees
      £105,640 Restoration work Refurbishment of colliery machinery & equipment
      £19,000 Visitor experience Improving interpretation
      £16,209 Contingency At 10% of capital costs
      £18,193 VAT Irrecoverable VAT
      £44,950 Colliery surface Restoration of surface equipment & buildings, digger hire, power supply to site

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    BCLM Funds £20,000 Guaranteed
    Arts Council £50,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    BCLM is located in Dudley, West Midlands. In the 19th century commentators spoke of this region as a great coalfield, and of the “earth turned inside out” by all the mining activity. Once considered ‘the workshop of the world’, the area now has high levels of unemployment and deprivation.


    Visitors of all ages will benefit from project. We currently welcome 290,000 visitors per year including 60,000 school children.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    BCLM is the 2nd most visited paid-admission open air museum in the UK. In 2012, the Museum’s collection was designated by Arts Council England for its quality and national significance. This was followed by recognition as a Major Partner Museum (MPM) in 2015. The quality of our formal learning programme has been recognised with a Sandford Award for Heritage Education (2015) and Accreditation of Visit England’s ‘Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme’ & Learning Outside the Classroom Quality badge.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jonathan Wilson, Deputy Chief Executive (Collections, Learning & Research)

    He will have overall responsibility for the project and has a wealth of curatorial experience, holding senior positions at several museums.

    David Pitt, Head Of Historic Building & Site Conservation

    David has over 30 years’ experience in leading on building construction, restoration and renovation.

    Irene De Boo, Curator Of Industry & Transport

    Irene will be the Project Manager and will have day-to-day responsibility to ensure that the project runs to schedule.