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Black Country given major tourism boost by WMCA


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An exciting £30m tourism project that will whisk people back in time to the Black Country’s post-war heydays is set to get a major investment boost from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).


The Forging Ahead project is the museum’s largest and most ambitious development since it opened in 1978. It will see a brand-new visitor welcome centre, learning spaces, industrial quarter and an historic town.


Andrew Lovett, chief executive officer at Black Country Living Museum, said: “Forging Ahead provides added momentum to thrive once again for our community following the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic.


“The modern Black Country, with its rich global connections and diversity of people is the enduring legacy of the 1940s-60s. It is a legacy to be proud of. Forging Ahead provides a new stage upon which we can share new stories and celebrate the contribution of everyone who came to call the Black Country home during this period of history.


The project was stalled due to a major funding gap that had arisen because of the costs of cleaning up the derelict industrial site. The WMCA has now intervened with its Board committing devolved housing and land investment to fund the clean-up and make the site ready for development. Detailed negotiations are now taking place with the museum on the final terms of the investment.


Forging Ahead will create more than 140 new jobs at the Museum and within the local area, and 30 of these would be a direct result of the WMCA’s critical investment in the scheme.


The WMCA Board was told how the investment would support the museum’s vision to create a world class heritage attraction in the heart of the Black Country and how it would help grow the visitor market around the tourism cluster at Dudley’s Castle Hill.


Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, added: “Supporting the museum in this way would yet again show how the WMCA is using the money it has secured from government to open up brownfield sites to recharge our industrial history, build new homes, grow our business and tourism sector and protect our green belt from unnecessary development.”

Written by: David Watkins

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