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The Black Country Living Museum set up in 1975 to preserve and display the social and industries history of the Black Country. The museum shows how people lived and worked in the area from the 18th century to the present day.

A pleasant time was held by all who went on the Black Country Living Museum trip on Saturday 21st July 2007, not even the rain dampened our excitement and interest to the various exhibits on offer.

Forty seven people of adults, senior citizens and children set off at the early morning of 7am by coach from Bexleyheath to Dudley near Birmingham where the museum is placed.

On our arrival, an interpreter was waiting for us and took us all to the Coal Mine Museum where we all had to put on safety helmets, and use the torches provided as then into the dark mine we walked. Slippery mud floors, low ceilings, dampness, dripping water and the sloping tunnel was inside to meet us. The Coal Mine was a working environment in the 19th century, and wax figures showed the men and boys as young as ten working. This tour was 40 minutes long and we went outside, the daylight was very bright.

Our next stop was the Toll House which was a transferred from Sedgley to the museum site. There we met a great grandson of a woman who used to live in the Toll House. He explained the Toll House would have had a large gate outside across the roadway. All travellers would have been charged for using the road.

We moved onto the Village School a talk was given by a museum guide. When first opened the boys and girls ages five to ten were taught in separate parts of the school building but at a later date 1868 the two halves were taught together. A demonstration of how teaching a child to write was given, this was very interesting. Each family paid one penny a week for their child’s education if the family could not afford to pay a penny the child stayed at home. Discipline was used by way of the cane. In those days the cane was used on different parts of the child’s body for example edge of finger, palm of hand, leg or buttock. Hard punishment eh!

There is so much to see and do at the Black Country Living Museum a fairground, glassworks, blacksmith shop, a village centre with shops and houses, restaurants, and the Dudley Canal Tunnel to name but a few of the other sights to be seen.

Our group split up to do and see the many other displays. Some of us went to have something to eat at the Canalside café or go to the many other choices in the refreshment area.

Some of us went to the village centre where variety of shops awaited them for example the village pub, the sweetshop, the bakery and then some of us went on a tour of the Dudley Canal Tunnel where there are wonderful limestone caverns to see.

Sadly a wonderful day had to come to an end and with heavy feet we all board our coach for our homeward journey. Arriving back at Bexleyheath at about 9pm we were all weary but happy with our day of enjoyment, new experience and knowledge. Definitely a trip worth doing again!

On Friday evening 30th November, we had 3 main courses Christmas dinner at Birchwood Park Golf Club near Swanley for members of Bexley Deaf club. John Wright our ex committee member who was originally organised the event but withdrawal due to his illness, however, Barry Hartwell kindly took over to ensure the evening meal continue success. Leslie Culver our Club Secretary gave Barry a gift (Monopoly of Brighton City) for his hard work in organising club’s trips recently. We enjoyed the evening gathered until 11pm.

On Saturday 1st December, 21 people including 2 young children met at Dickens World at Chatham in North Kent.

This museum showed us some events or characters arising from the books of Charles Dickens, a famous writer from the Victoria times.

We found the old fashioned looking buildings to be impressive, we went on a boat ride underneath and some of us got wet!

We entered into Dotheboys School where we sat behind straight rows of wooden benches with a teacher wearing a long black gown and holding a cane. He asked us questions and, one of us, Kim Morgan gave a wrong answer so had to be told to sit in a corner with a ‘D’ hat. David Foot was caught pulling funny faces and the teacher punished him by asking him to sit in a corner again with the ‘D’ hat.

We visited the Haunted House where we saw a ‘film’ of Scrooge being haunted by ghosts as described in Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol”.

We went to a 4D cinema where we wore special spectacles to see a film being shown in 3D plus a spray of water with a smell falling onto us.

Lastly some of us bought some books from the main shop as we would like to know more about Charles Dickens who had 10 children by his first wife and got married again for the second times. Through his writings (there were about 14 books), he drew the attention of the public to all human life from the poorest to the wealthiest in 19th century society. He travelled to America and Europe. He died at the age of 58 in 1870.

Finally many thanks go to Barbara Hayes and Louise Culver for their interpreting efforts and to Barry Hartwell for organising this event.

On Saturday 9th June, the weather was very good and sun was shining warm. Twenty two of us went to the Chatham Dockyard (Former Royal Navy Dockyard), to catch Kingswear Castle Steam Paddle boat.. a very unusual boat driven by coal fired steam.. a restored 1900 boat from the past built in 1924 with engine renovated from even older boats. We all 'sailed' on the steamboat turning its two paddles on its both sides and watched the boiler man stoking the boiler with coal and the tea was even made hot water from the boiler.

The sea was very smooth and after two hours of padding, we came to Southend-On-Sea pier passing a lot of interesting riverside buildings such as old river castle, big oil yards, old river forts and many interesting building on the sides of the river.

On arrival at Southend-On-Sea's pier, we board out of the boat onto the lower landing of the pier which was full of seaweeds and sea lichens as it is under the sea when at high tide. It was fortunately at low tide when we came to the pier.. we carefully climbed onto the pier and walked up to the upper deck passing where there used to be theatre, restaurant and hall of mirror all destroyed in past pier great fires some years ago. All now charred but now part restored on its platform flooring. We walked on some catch pier train to reach a mile and half end of the pier.. some even walked all the way down.. the pier is famous for its length and had four great pier fires, the last time was in 1995. I think the pier is waiting for the money from the lottery fund to have full restoration on it damaged part of the pier.

After an hour we came back to the boat for a return trip.. On it voyage back to Chatham one of the yachts on the river managed to ram the side of the paddle boat but no real damage done.. It was very loud and frightening that the yacht may have lost its control by a sudden wind. We paddle on and arrived Chatham. We all had a great time and mostly have gone tan with a good sun all the way and very relaxed.