When anyone talks of an attraction as featuring a selection of historic buildings, I’m always afraid that it’ll turn out either as some Harry Potter World-esque recreation of a set designer’s idea of what old buildings must have looked like, or else some solitary sorry construction that might have started life some centuries ago, but now owes more to the output of Homebase economy range of products than to its original construction techniques.

Not so Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings Park, just outside Bromsgove. Its range of over 30 buildings, which date from Medieval through to mid 20th Century, have all been carefully and painstakingly restored to demonstrate just what their original craftsmen were endeavouring to create – in some cases stripping away years of neglect and inappropriate conversion in the meantime.

The Park has its origins in the mid 1960s, when Bromsgrove was undergoing its own post-War redevelopment and local campaigners were fighting to save one particular medieval landmark from the middle of the town. Attempts to have it bypassed failed, and the era was one when, for many, medieval buildings were symptomatic of the urban decay they were keen to clear away, but salvation was grasped at the last minute when a home was found for the whole building in the grounds of the Avoncroft College – itself dedicated to skills education for agricultural workers. Since the Museum was formally opened to the public in 1967 following the restoration of that first building, they have steadily acquired additional buildings, each one a superb example of its kind but all very much of the everyday that could otherwise have disappeared unremarked.

There’s a recurrent theme of the death of engineering and manual labour in the 70s – a number of buildings from that era hark back to the role of the Midlands as part of the UK’s manufacturing base, churning out those seemingly mundane items like nails and chains that one just takes for granted as coming from ‘somewhere’. Somewhere was once little workshops in the backstreets of Midlands towns, where generations of men and women worked with forge and hand-operated tools until the fires died for the last time and their purpose-built premises quickly fell victim to wrecking ball. Even now, they wouldn’t be big enough to merit conversion into upmarket ‘urban’ apartments, so Avoncroft and its supporters’ work is essential in presenting us with a vision of our own past.

The same is true of agriculture. So many buildings, each with its own specific role to play in the farming calendar, most lasting for generation after generation until technology rendered them redundant and they slowly crumbled into disrepair and eventual ruin – except for when farsighted owners, or maybe those who just couldn’t face the prospect of watching their family history fall apart before them, gifted them to Avoncroft.

So far, the MidCentury world hasn’t come off too well as most of the buildings I’ve mentioned were victims of 20th Century progress rather than products of it, but there are some gems to delight the heart of the 40s-60s enthusiast. Most prominent amongst these in terms of buildings is a beautifully preserved and presented pre-fab. Built in 1946 and with a design life of 10-15 years at the most, this microcosm of post-War recovery provided a modest but comfortable home for a Midlands family until 1980 when it was acquired by Avoncroft and returned to its late 1940s state. Looking beyond the period furniture and fittings, it’s easy to see how exciting it must have been for the first occupants – quite apart from being their passport out of the desperate housing crisis of the post-War years, the pre-fab offered better facilities than a good many pre-War homes, including separate indoor toilet and bathroom and a well-equipped kitchen. The one disappointment is that, for access reasons, the adjacent Anderson shelter has to be presented with additional ceiling height and open front – I think I’d have preferred it in post-War mode, turned into a garden shed like so many of the originals were.

Though not buildings in the truest sense, Avoncroft’s added extra is a delight for the student of vintage British society – the National Telephone Kiosks Collection. Of course, we can all recognise a K6 when we see it, can’t we, and it’s an iconic symbol of the UK – you only have to dodge round the tourists queueing to take each other’s pictures in the ones in Parliament Square to see that – but how many of us could describe what came afterwards? We all knew them, and in the days before home telephones were universal, let alone mobiles, probably used them (what child of the 70s didn’t leave home with a 2p piece to be used only for the emergency call home?), but they just faded into the background and now are mostly gone. Fortunately, one of everything, equipped with their original phones, has found their way to Avoncroft and, thanks to a dedicated exchange (itself a rescued building), you can spend a happy half hour phoning from one to the other, if only to recapture the feel of a dial phone and the sound of a ring instead of a ringtone.

As one would hope, one of Avoncroft’s buildings houses an excellent tea shop with a great range of teas on offer and some awesome cakes. The surroundings are great for strolling, and there’s enough room that each building sits either on its own or in proximity to others of the same era, so the context feels right – apart, of course, from the stench that the industrial and agricultural buildings would have borne for most of their working lives. It’s ironic that the very act of preservation and presentation robs a building of some of its defining character, but that’s a small price to pay to have them rescued and treated with such care, and the living history volunteers who occupy them at weekends do a good job of putting back in the smells of wood fires and authentic cooking.

Avoncroft is very close to the M5 and open all year round. Their very useful website tells you all you need for a visit and their Facebook page has all the latest news.