PM Rishi Sunak took his first visit to West Midlands’ Black Country Living Museum on Friday, as part of a trip to launch a local election campaign for the Conservatives.

Sunak was shown progress on the museum’s £30m ‘Forging Ahead’ project, which will explore local life from the 1940s-60s.

The first phase of the project features 22 historic buildings and structures, including the recreation of Wolverhampton’s Elephant and Castle pub, which was opened last August.

£30m expansion of Black Country Living Museum to create 140 jobs

Sunak was accompanied during his visit by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Andrew Lovett OBE, the Museum’s Chief Executive. They visited the Museum’s Elephant & Castle Public House and Hobbs & Sons Fish and Chip Shop.

The Museum received a government grant of £3.74m through the Culture Recovery Fund in 2021 which has partially funded the Forging Ahead project.

Speaking during the visit, Sunak referenced the funding. “It’s so important to invest in places that define culture in all corners of the country, providing jobs and supporting the wider community. My focus is on growing the economy and places like Black Country Living Museum in Dudley will help do exactly that,” he said.

The PM met a historic character portraying ‘Carmen Salmon’, a Caribbean nurse who is based on the memories of Cicilyn Miller and Norma Sinclair who moved to the Black Country during the 1950s. The character is one of several that will populate the new development.

Museum Chief Executive Lovett said: “I was especially pleased to show the Prime Minister how our latest development inspired a wide range of funders to get involved, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, the West Midlands Combined Authority, and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.”

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