Red by Night

25th May 2018
If industrial and social history, particularly of the early 20th century is of interest then a visit to the museum at any time will be a good day out. The region was so named because of the amount of smoke and soot that enveloped it, in the day. Come night-time however and it all changed to red due to the amount of furnaces and fires used to power the industry. That was from a time when there was little electricity available. Everything had to be powered by coal and steam.

At this time of year it doesn't get dark until late but there was still the early evening light to enjoy which provided a very pleasant backdrop to the buildings and other exhibits. Certainly, it helped the nostalgic feel.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the lights in the shops and houses became more prominent aa did the furnaces in the Blacksmith's workshop and the forge. Indeed, in the latter it was incredible to see red hot billets being taken out and tossed across the workshop floor and then picked up to be placed under the hammer. The ground shook when the hammer came down and pressed the billet with a huge thud. This is only a small forge, so you can imagine just how the ground would tremble when there would have been many large forges across the area.

Two buses were running throughout the evening between the top and bottom of the museum site, and they proved popular. One was working as the number 11 to Wednesbury and the other the 245 to Stourbridge. Some traction engines were also in steam.

There were the usual long queues for the two fish and chip shops, though I chose to have a tray of pork and a bap with stuffing from the hog roast. The fairground was proving as popular as ever. The Bottle and Glass inn was doing a very brisk trade as not only was the event busy but it was also a warm evening with next to no breeze. Even so, some people took advantage of the numerous braziers once the skies darkened.

The row of 1930s shops was open, including the motorcycle dealership and the radio shop which I was informed was mostly open for evening events. There were old radios and record players of the time, many of which were in working order. After a hard day at the factory, time to sit down and listen to the Light programme.

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2018

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