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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
Dudley Skyline

The big heart of the Black Country

There's a wealth of fascinating history to discover in Dudley… all set alongside some of the most up-to-date business and entertainment facilities in the region. If you haven't visited the town for a few years, you'll immediately see plenty of change, from the many works of art that line the recently-opened Dudley Southern Bypass, to several new hotels, sports clubs and visitor attractions.

A focal point in Dudley is the 11th century Dudley Castle, the feudal stronghold of the Earls of Dudley until partly demolished in the English Civil War. First mentioned in the Domesday Book, the hilltop location affords a breathtaking view of the town and the castle is probably the only one in the country to house a zoo in its grounds! Dudley Zoological Gardens leads the world in many international conservation and breeding programmes and has been a focal point for the town since the mid 1930a.

Dudley's mediaeval marketplace, with its regular market and traders, is integral to the town's character, and a touch of Italian flair can be found in the Renaissance drinking fountain, designed by James Forsyth in 1867 and at the top of the High Street, St Thomas's Church ('top church', 1815-18), one of the first buildings in the world to use cast iron and timber in the construction of its rafters.

Nearby the Black Country Living Museum brings the area's heritage alive. This unique open air museum features carefully reconstructed buildings from around the Black Country giving you a taste of life in days gone by. The Rolfe Street Exhibition Halls tell the story of the area's past, present and future while houses and shops staffed by knowledgeable and friendly local people add to the authenticity of the canal-side Victorian Village. While you are there why not take a trip down a coal mine of the 1850s, ride on the antique fairground or round your trip off with a glass of traditional ale and Victorian fish and chips cooked in dripping.

While you are at the Black Country Living Museum why not visit the Dudley Canal Trust and take a trip into the Singing Cavern. Boat trips can be taken from the wharf at the Black Country Living Museum and by direct access through Todd's End Field car park, through the Dudley Canal Tunnel with its open-air basins and rock-lined sections. Once accessible only be 'legging', the tunnel is the longest navigable one in Britain, running almost two miles underneath the town centre to Parkhead. Even more impressive is the Singing Cavern, a disused limestone mine reached by new tunnels constructed in 1984 and 1989.