BYO Babycham? Museum seeks old drinks to recreate 1960s Midlands pub

A museum is appealing for old bottles of drinks marketed to women, such as Babycham and Cherry B, to help it recreate a once-treasured pub from the 1960s.

The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley is calling out for donations of furnishings and objects as it sets about building a recreation of the now-demolished Elephant and Castle pub that stood in nearby Wolverhampton.

The museum’s collections team are looking for bar items from the 1960s, in particular items tailored for the female market such as Babycham, Cherry B and Golden Godwin.

“The pub is going to be set in the 60s, which was a time when lots of women were starting to go to the pub and have a drink, and brands were targeting alcohol to women for the first time,” said Chloe Taylor, a collections manager at the 26-acre open-air museum.

“We want to be able to tell the story of everyone who drank at the pub. We specifically selected the Elephant and Castle as we know that people from all over the world would drink in there, particularly people that migrated here to work, so it allows us to tell a really diverse range of stories.”

The recreation of the building is almost complete, with a local company reproducing the famous elephant statue that once stood prominently on the pub’s exterior, and staff are looking for objects to fill its interior.

As well as drinks bottles, the museum is also looking for promotional materials such as wall plaques, mirrors and coasters, as well as wooden tables and dark mahogany spindle back chairs, beer, wines and spirits bottles and promotional glasses.

Built in 1905, the Elephant and Castle became a landmark in the city and was frequented by a diverse clientele over the years, including Irish and Commonwealth citizens from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

Typical of its era, it had a public bar for the working classes and a separate smoking room with slightly higher prices for the middle classes.

It was demolished unexpectedly in 2001, shortly before it could be considered for listing, dismaying local residents.

“It was such a well-loved and treasured venue in Wolverhampton and that’s why we’re working so hard to create a really authentic recreation of the building, because there’s very little of the original that survived the demolition,” Taylor said.

“We’re really relying on people’s stories and memories and oral histories to recreate the pub, which is one of the reasons why we’re so keen to work with the public to collect objects to go inside.”

The pub is part of a major development at the site in which 22 historic buildings will be recreated and the museum’s size will be increased by a third, focusing on the 1940s-60s.

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