Living History in the West Midlands
World wars, chocolate and industry, all form parts of the incredible historical tapestry that has unfolded across the West Midlands over the millennia.
Remnants of this history are cast across the county, from the skyscrapers of Birmingham to the half-timbered houses of Bournville. These remnants take the form of museums, botanical gardens and reformed factories, and each one makes for a superb and informative day out.
To help you discover the best bits, we've compiled a list of the most intriguing historical days out in the West Midlands:
Chocolate has always been close to the British heart, and Birmingham and the West Midlands have had a huge part to play in chocolate's development as one of the world's favourite treats. One of the biggest innovators and producers actually comes from this part of England: the famous John Cadbury and his family. Cadbury operated his business out of the West Midlands and in particular, a small town called Bournville where an old Cadbury factory has been turned into the wonderful Cadbury World. Celebrating the astonishing Cadbury legacy and all the different kinds of chocolate that has come from the family, this attraction takes visitors through chocolate exhibitions, revealing the history of British chocolate and even allows kids to become chocolatiers themselves!
Remarkable both in its impressive longevity and its historic importance, Coventry's Cathedral is a remarkable landmark at the heart of the city. Although referred to as a single building, the cathedral is in fact two separate buildings each with its own fascinating history - one being the ruins of the medieval parish church destroyed in WW2 and the other being the new cathedral which has inspired many artists over the years. Recently, archived photos of the cathedral's construction in 1956 were released to the public which run from the foundations being laid to the hoisting of the spire, so seeing this building in person gives a real sense of how British history is tied to the West Midlands.
Black Country Living Museum
This open air museum lets visitors step back in time and experience the market town of Dudley at the beginning of the industrial era, which arguably began right here in the Black Country. A key part of Britain's history, the Black Country Living Museum is a historical treat for adults and children. The exhibits represent over 300 years of history, with a particular focus on the stretch between 1850 and 1950 which covers both World War 1 and 2. Streets are filled with reconstructed shops that give customers the experience of village life across the centuries, and shows you how everyday lives of residents were changed forever with the advent of industry.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
If you're looking to get outdoors and a bit closer to nature then look no further than the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. With a wide variety of themed gardens, from informative horticultural gardens to Japanese-influenced areas, there's beauty at practically every turn. On top of this, there are four stunning glasshouses which showcase different biomes, including tropical rainforests and arid deserts, teeming with plant life you wouldn't typically get to see! The botanical gardens offer up a tantalising chance to step back from the hustle and bustle of the big city and to relax in beautiful and serene surroundings. Designed back in 1829 by J.C Loudon, these gardens also offer up a slice of history, representing a superbly well-preserved example of a Victorian park.
The West Midlands offers much more than just history however. With thriving cities, and impeccable countryside, there are a number of reasons why anyone should consider become a resident of this charming county. If the West Midlands has caught your eye, be sure to take a look at our area guide which you can find here.