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Lenny Henry opens Dudley's 'fantastic mini-British Library'

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 03, 2014

Lenny Henry - flying the flag for the Black Country

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LENNY Henry joked he was the "Morgan Freeman of Dudley" as he officially opened the borough's new archives centre last week.

Lenny was returning to his home town for the first time since he was made a freeman of the borough last October.

And he said he was very proud to open the prestigious new local history centre.

After unveiling a plaque at the opening ceremony last Wednesday (April 23), the 55-year-old comedian said: "This place is amazing, I've had a good look round and there's even a section on me with my old registers from school at St John's.

"I'm a member of the British Library and to have a place like this, a kind of mini-British Library, here in Dudley is fantastic.

"It's very important to know about your past, for without a past we have no future. I really hope Dudley people take this place to their hearts and come here and use it, to find out about their families and where they've come from."

Lenny is proud of his Black Country roots, as he made clear when we asked him what he thought of plans to absorb our region into a "Greater Birmingham."

"The Black Country has a lot to offer," he said. "We can stand on our own two feet and not be subsumed into some great city mass. We can present the Black Country as an alternative Birmingham; we can be a stronger Black Country."

And when told about the upcoming Black Country Day on July 14, Lenny said: "Black Country Day? Some of us live it 24/7 – it's a way of life!"

The new archives and local history centre in Tipton Road is housed in a £6 million eco-friendly, energy efficient building. Its facilities include a search room, research area, rare books library, education and conference rooms and the latest IT technology and wi-fi services for visitors.

The centre is the first public building to be built by Dudley Council for 20 years and has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The archives are open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9am to 5pm, except Thursdays when they are open at 9.30am until 7pm.

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