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I live in Birmingham and we've got relatives in Dudley, not that I go and visit them all that much but I do know Dudley pretty well.... and apart from a few tourist attractions it's not all that! lol
For shopping it's not as good as other places to shop in Birmingham and the Black Country. There are loads of cheap shops and a couple of markets and that makes it wicked if you're going off on a bargain hunt but if you're looking for something a bit special then you might as well get on the bus to Birmingham City Centre instead! lol Parking is a NIGHTMARE round by the shops in Dudley so I time my visits for when my dad is working in the area so he can give me a lift because if I take the car then it's a guarentee I'll be driving round for half an hour looking for a parking space and then have to park a mile away from the shops!
There's quite a lot of buses that go to different parts of Dudley and the connections from Birmingham and all the towns in the Black Country are good. It's mainly the little single decker buses and it doesn't cost all that much to travel from Birmingham.
As you walk round the town you'll see it's a bit grimey, it's not one of them towns that time forgot but you can tell they don't get a lot of money to spend sprucing the place up. One good thing is that the streets in Dudley aren't full of asbo idiots and it's known as a safe place to go on a night out.
If you go now you're bound to be grabbed by someone in the street who is either opposed or supporting a mega mosque to be built in Dudley and you'll probably be given a leaflet about it. I don't see the problem because there are a lot of Muslims in Dudley so it makes sense for them to build their mosque.
If you're looking for something to do in Dudley there is the zoo, Black Country Museum and trips along the canal on tour barges. The zoo is massive and Dudley Castle is in the grounds, I've never been very happy with Dudley Zoo because the animals never look very happy and I always end up feeling madly sorry for them. I love zoos usually but will travel to one a bit further away where the animals are going to look a bit happier.
The Black Country Museum is worth a look. It's a Victorian village that has been put up and includes a school, houses and old fashioned shops where you can buy stuff. The fish and chip shop is wicked.... that's all you can buy as well so don't be expecting a choice of pies or sausages! lol The fish is always gorgeous though and tastes loads better with the traditional batter even though it's proper greasy.
I've never been on a canal trip but my mate has and she loves it, I'm going soon because she wants to take her son so I said I'd go with her and take my sister. You go along the canal and also through some long tunnels that Dudley are famous for.
I recommend Dudley if you're in the area but wouldn't travel miles for the town or any of its attractions. There are LOADS of pubs in the area, nothing very special but you can grab a nice meal and a few drinks on just about every street in the town.
Dudley has been getting some bad press in the last few months, so I would like to redress the balance somewhat with my experience of having previously lived in Dudley. I'd been living in a small, quiet village in the 6 years before moving to Dudley. There was only one problem with village life - it was boring! So I started a search for a new house, and found the perfect house situated near to Dudley town centre. Having been a frequent visitor to Dudley during my childhood I was well aware of the problems people normally associate with Dudley, but as they were relatively minor (litter, graffiti, town centre being a little run down, that sort of thing), that didn't put me off. I also knew that Lenny Henry had grown up in Dudley, so I told myself "If it was good enough for him, it's good enough for my family". I moved in within a month. I got to know my new neighbours fairly quickly, and found Dudley people to be very down to earth, and surprisingly helpful and generous - they'd do anything for anyone! Every community has its bad apples though, and there were a few more "dodgy" types who are always trying to make a bit of extra cash by any method available to them - but I stress these were few and far between! I'm just trying to give you a balanced picture here. Dudley town centre itself has been a market town since 1260. The original outdoor market is still thriving, and is open 6 days a week. Another 2 indoor markets are also now open for business. As for shops in Dudley, many of the bigger retailers have moved out of Dudley, favouring the nearby Merry Hill shopping centre, leaving Dudley without such a variety of shops. Those that have stayed are generally the discount type stores, but this does of course make Dudley a cheap place to shop. Just 5 minutes walk from the shopping centre is Dudley Zoo. I'm not going to go into the right or wrongs of zoo's here, but I will say that Dudl
ey Zoo do seem to take good care of their animals and provide the public with educational talks about the various animals they look after, and the conservation issues surrounding them. Situated within the Zoo grounds is Dudley castle, which was founded in 1071 and reputed to be haunted by several ghostly figures. During the busiest times of the year visitors are invited to take part in a ghost walk, for which there is no extra charge. There is also a visitor centre in the castle grounds, where you are able to go and find out more about the castle's fascinating history. Entrance fees (which include entrance to both the Zoo and the castle) are; adults £7.95, children (4 - 15 years old) £5.00, and children under 4 get in for free. Alternatively a family ticket is available for up to 2 adults and 3 children at £27.00. If you're a regular visitor to Dudley you may be better off buying a season ticket, for which you will receive unlimited visits to the zoo and castle for a year, regular copies of "Zoo Nooz" magazine, and free parking on the zoo car park for a year too! Season ticket prices vary according to number of people included on it, but if you're interested you can check the prices on their website - www.dudleyzoo.org.uk. Just outside Dudley town centre is Himley Hall, a stately home previously owned by the earls of Dudley. The Hall itself is open for just a few hours a day, from March to October, but the Hall grounds also play host to the annual Dudley show every August, and various art and craft exhibitions at other times of the year. Himley hall is also very well known for its spectacular fireworks display every November. Dudley Museum and Art Gallery boasts a collection of over 12,000 fossil and rock specimens, and an extensive fine art collection. Not my kind of thing personally, but the great thing about it is it's free, and it's open all year around. They also occasionally host temporary exhi
bitions, where, for a short time, they will show collections of things other than their usual fossils, rocks and art. The most well known of Dudley's attractions must surely be the Black Country Museum. Situated on a massive 26 acre site, attractions include exploring the underground coalmine, regular demonstrations in sweet making, glass cutting and metal working. You can even see a silent film in the replica 1920's cinema, and try fish and chips in the 1930's chip shop! Entrance fees are a little expensive at; adults £9.60, children (aged 5 and over) £5.50 - under 5's get free entry - but well worth the expense for an enjoyable day out. A family ticket is also available for £27.00 - which covers 2 adults and up to 3 children. From the Black Country museum operate trips through the Dudley canal tunnel. The tunnel is said to be haunted by a man who was murdered there, and by the ghosts of 2 children who drowned after their raft capsized. Surprisingly no-one seems to be cashing in by operating "ghost" trips along the canals, but general trips are always on offer. The Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve in Dudley is still (I'm told) visited by geologists from all over the world, as perfectly preserved fossils have been found in the limestone rocks. More often though the Nature Reserve is visited by locals walking their dogs, enjoying picnics or playing football. It is certainly a very pleasant place to be, and worthy of a visit. Despite it's bad press, and despite being a little neglected and run down in parts (as mentioned earlier), I think that Dudley still has an awful lot going for it! I probably wouldn't recommend it as a place to live - I myself moved away a couple of years later - but as a place to visit it's bound to have something to please everyone.
Dudley is a historic town located on the top of a steep hill, with many shops dating back to the last century. It has a wonderfully famous fountain that is sadly in need of restoration. Much like it's castle. Dudley offers spectacular views of the surrounding areas - especially from its soon to be closed zoo that has a huge variety of animals. The zoo is very spacious and great for a family day out while it lasts. Also just down the road is the Black Country Living Museum, a vitrual time capsule of how people lived in this area over 100 years ago (some still live like this!). There is still a very local feel to Dudley which is mainly due to its buildings and down-to-earth people. The nearby college is lively and has had a lot of renovation work done. There's also the Dudley part of Wolverhampton University about 1 mile from the town centre offering a variety of courses for students of all ages. However the town itself has - through lack of investment and focus on the Merry Hill Centre - become rather dirty and uninviting; the bus shelter and market area resemble a ghetto, with undesirables hanging around and very poor security. The litter is also very noticeable to the outsider. Recently a new road system was implemented to ease years of traffic congestion, however all this has done is move traffic elsewhere and made it nigh on impossible for pedestrians and cyclists to get anywhere near the town without inconvenience. Not exactly welcomed with open arms.. More and more people are avoiding Dudley. What's left of it's once splendid ambience has been literally handed over to the deadbeats and the powers that be don't seem to care. This is criminal considering the history of such a place and the potential it has to offer. Dudley could attract a lot of people and their money if it just cleaned up it's act..