For the second time in as many weeks, we teamed up with Steve Reed Tourism and Daish’s Holidays for Groups to promote a “Groups Showcase”. This time, literally 2 miles from our HQ – Dudley, the heart of the Black Country. (Note, it’s pronounced “Dudlee” not “Dudlaaaaaay” as everyone else in the country seems to think!)

Being a proud native of this wonderful region of the country myself (and also chairman of and player for the Black Country county darts team) this was certainly an opportunity I felt immensely proud to be part of, as promoting the history, heritage and all round tourism pull is high on our agenda. 

Group organisers and event exhibitors braving the drizzle for a photo at the rallying point - the Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust

Meet & Greet

First on the day’s itinerary was a meet and greet with the various attractions/venues exhibiting, along with having the distinct pleasure of being addressed by Cllr Sue Greenaway, Mayor of Dudley. 

Along with Steve Reed and our friend Nicola Beckley, tourism development officer for Discover Dudley, they gave everyone a fantastic and entertaining run down of just how much the region has to offer to visiting groups. Even I forget just how much there is to see and do around here!

A smorgasboard of glassworks, historic venues, canals, museums, walking trails, shopping centres, a zoo & castle and our very own geopark, there’s something for everyone and for all ages. 

Martin Jenkins from Daish’s Travel was also on hand at the events, and presented 3 very lucky raffle winners with prizes of £100, £250 and £500 off their next Daish’s Holidays for Groups bookings! 

Exhibitors included were:
Village Hotel, Dudley and Copthorne Hotel – Merry Hill,
Dudley; Discover Dudley; The Black Country Living Museum;
Dudley Canal and Caverns;
Red House Glass Cone and Dudley Museum at the Archives;
Stourbridge Glass Museum.
From further afield were exhibitors such as the National Memorial Arboretum and the Olympus Restaurant from Bolton.

Tunnel Vision

Sadly it looked like the drizzle was set to stay for the day, which wouldn’t affect us too much as the next port of call was to head back in time on a working narrowboat to explore the Dudley Canal & Caverns.

This is a site that doesn’t just date back to several hundred years ago when the Black Country became a spearhead region in the Industrial Revolution. The history of what’s on show dates back over 400 million years! 

Our group was fascinated and greatly entertained by Rebecca, the boat skipper and guide for the journey. The facts and knowledge about the history of this mesmerising place were staggering.
Or as we say round these parts – “That wench knows her onions, doe her!”

From learning about the prehistoric days of the area, to the intricate and exhaustive work of the tunnels being constructed to transport mined elements, it truly was an insightful experience. 

The Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust host a number of different types of boat trips and events throughout the year, for both adult and child groups. For more information, visit their website by clicking the button below.

A journey back in time, quite literally

After mooring up we made the very short walk over the bridge to the Black Country Living Museum. A fantastic place that, I reckon, most Black Country folk have been to on a school trip within the last 20-30 years but criminally have not been back. Speaking from experience, I last went when I was about 15, and despite living literally just down the road, that was 22 years ago!

Suffice to say, it’s changed a fair bit. Well, a heck of a lot! It is simply bostin! (Translation: Fantastic, brilliant, amazing, etc)

The group outside the BCLM's brand new Visitor Centre

The Black Country Living Museum is a huge open-air museum that truly captures the essence of what life was like during days-gone-by.

With vintage public houses, 1920s shops, pre-war cinemas, a walk-in coal mine, turn-of-20th-century school classes, a proper fish & chip shop and industrial demonstrations of chain and nail making, among many other things, it was a captivating experience. 

Our guides gave us a fantastic talk on the timeline of not only the museum, but the history of the region as well. Literally anything you can think of that was around back in the day, the BCLM has a working version of it for you to look around and take in. To add that extra “nostalgic” feel, they even have vintage buses driving around the site transporting passengers. Definitely one for your group’s driver to have a butchers at!

Words from the organisers

‘We were very happy to set up for the day at these wonderful twin attractions in Dudley,’ says Martin Jenkins of Daish’s Holidays.

‘Going out and about around the country is a great way to keep in touch with our tour planner customers and also an opportunity to meet new GTOS and coach and tour operators. 

We wereable to tell them all about our hotels, our tours and also the four big familiarisations we have scheduled for next year in Weymouth, Torquay, Blackpool [and the Lakes] and Bournemouth.’

Nicola Beckley from Discover Dudley added;

Discover Dudley is very keen to welcome groups to the borough of Dudley. We have an amazing variety of visitor attractions for people of all ages from the award-winning Black Country Living Museum taking visitors back in time with 300 years of history, the Dudley Canal & Caverns where you can have a go at ‘legging’ inside the tunnel to our Stourbridge Glass Quarter with over 400 years of glass making history.
Come and explore this hidden gem of an area for yourselves. 

For further information on our coach/group packages visit https://www.discoverdudley.org.uk/group-travel/