* Prices may differ from that shown
I had visited Ironbridge before, a school history trip approximately a billion years ago, it is so much more appealing to come back under your own steam! On arrival in Ironbridge this time, (the home of Britain's Industrial Heritage), we first visited the Museum of the Gorge and I think it is a good place to start. Parking is outside the museum - the parking is run by the local authority and they dictate the prices, but it is reasonable. When you first walk into the museum you mainly see a shop selling gifts and books. We knew we wanted to visit some of the other museums in the area so stopped to ask about purchasing a 'Passport' to all the open museums (some are closed seasonally). Here we found the staff very helpful and informative. We could pay £3.60 as an adult to see the museum or £21.95 to get a passport to all museums. There are discounts available for pensioners and children. We purchased two passports and were directed to the museum on site. They say allow 45 minutes for this museum and I think this is quite generous. For me the star attraction was the 12m long scale model of the gorge in 1796 which shows you all the sites of historical interest and where the important industrial growth happened and its impact on the residents of the area. I think it was very well done and appealed across the ages. The other highlight was an informative 12 minute film on the area. The film gave you a bit of background into the history of the gorge and how it grew into the industrial heartland of the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the building of the famous bridge by Darby, as well as mentioning the other attractions in the area. Due to the length of the film - which is on a loop - you may have to wait to go into it, but you can always join it part of the way through if you wish. I would have liked to have known about the film sooner, and had the option to return to the museum after seeing it, enabling us to plan our timings better. When the film finishes you exit through a different door to the shop. There is a small, fairly irrelevant section, on Captain Webb, a local man who swam the English Channel. The exhibits include posters and documentation. As well as this there were some interactive computer based exhibits for children that didn't really appeal to us. Signage generally was informative and easy to read, but it is a small museum so don't expect too much. The museum is situated in a former warehouse that belonged to the Coalbrookdale ironworks, a large, prestigious local firm and was converted to a museum in the late Seventies. It is a small museum and I think I would have been disappointed if I had paid £3.60 for it on its own, as it was included in our passport I didn't mind so much as it was like visiting a 'free' museum. I don't recall if there were toilet facilities here or not, but the museum was disabled friendly. By all means if you are thinking of getting the passport then pop in here, but I am not sure it is worth too much of your time. It is open daily 10am to 5pm. It is situated just a few minutes walk from the bridge itself, and there are plenty of pubs and café catering to tourists nearby if you want to stop for lunch.
Victorian Village - Blists Hill This is a fantastic place to visit. Its a working museum with people dressed in traditional clothing and set in a life style victorian village. There is a bank where you can exchange money for 'old' money to spend in the various shops etc. There is a chemist, schoolhouse and you can attend a lesson, a farm area, a blacksmith, ironmonger, printers, butcher, baker and yes a candlestick maker! You can buy pies and pasties etc and bread and cakes all freshly baked that day on the premises. There is an old fashioned sweetshop with all your old favourites and a village pub with a piano for a great sing a long. Our daughter loves it when the village bobby comes in to do a spot of singing. Its a really great fun day out and one we have done many times and never tire of. I asked our daughter if she had the choice of Alton Towers or Victorian Village which she would chose...Victorian Village won hands down. They are investing more into the village over the last year and from Spring it will have even more, we will be back in Spring to see, i believe they are installing a narrowgauge mining train to tie in with the mine and many other things. You can buy day tickets or annual passes which represent great value as you can not only go as often as you wnat over a year they also include entrance to all the other Ironbridge Gorge Museums. There are loads more things i havent emntioned, wouldnt want to ruin your surprises! - You will love this place i'm sure. THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM
Under the title Ironbridge Gorge Museum there are a number of different museums all located close to the River Severn as it passes close to Telford. The total area of the museums is about 6 miles and n-one could feasibly see them all in a day. There is therefore a passport system which enables you to visit them all over as many days in the following 12 months as you wish. This passport costs £10 for adults and £6 for children. I appreciate this is a lot to fork out for a family and a family ticket at £30 is only really good value if you have more than 2 children (it pays for up to 5 kids) but if you get more than 2 days out of the ticket then you have probably got your moneys worth. A single site ticket is available but only useful if you know your visit is a one-off. The museums are as follows :- Blists Hill This is the main museum and is a full Victorian town. It has a bank where you can get 'old' money to use in the shops. There are houses to visit as well as the doctors and the dentists with its frightening array of implements of torture, sorry, dentistry. There is a blacksmith and a bakery as well as small factories. There are a few places around where you can stop in the gardens a Those familiar with Beamish in the North East of England may be a little disappointed. I thought it was not as well done as Beamish which has the benefit of being more widespread. Coalport China Museum There are large displays of China in buildings which once housed the Coalport china works. There are tableaux showing how the work was done in the factory. Just alongside the museum is the fascinating Box Tunnel. This is where natural bitumen was recovered around 200 years ago. Iron Bridge and Tollhouse Since its construction in 1779 this amazing structure has attracted visitors from all over the world. Those wishing to cross the river using the bridge had to pay a toll and the museum depicting the history of the bridge is now found in the tollhouse. Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron As you would expect at Ironbridge the work of the iron craftsmen was famous. In addition to the Bridge there was fountains, gates and all sorts of ornate ironwork produced here and this can be seen is this part of the museum. Alongside are some quakers houses built on the hill opposite the foundry where the iron was made. Tile Museum This shows how tiles and ceramics are made and where the raw materials for this factory came from. It shows how tiles were made and how they are made now. Pipeworks This is a museum of the clay pipes which were once prominently used for smoking tobacco. This factory is one which has changed little since it was built. A fascinating place to visit. Museum Of The Gorge Housed in an old 1830s warehouse is an exhibition of the whole area around showing the Victorian infrastructure which existed there. It is impossible to see all the attractions at once. I do have to say I feel it sometimes is all a bit too much and the attractions are stretching it a bit. Perhaps the modern curators of the museum could take a leaf from the book of the original inhabitants and integrate the attractions a little better, particularly by having some form of transport available to get around. This is something Beamish does very well with their old buses. It is interesting but not captivating. A few more areas to sit would help and perhaps a few more refreshment places. Those which are there tend to get crowded. There are plenty of toilets dotted around though. All things considered Ironbridge is good but could do better.
I sat my ‘O’ levels, as they were then called, shortly after the Industrial Revolution started, or so it seems now, in this age of T- mobiles and self-heating food in cans. Coincidentally, my favourite subject was ‘Economic and Social History’, taught by a passionate and slightly mad Welshman, a character straight out of Alexander Cordell’s ‘Host of Rebecca’. This involved learning about railways, canals, spinning jennies and Jethro Tull which was much more interesting than Kings and Queens and all that political stuff, especially as I lived in Shropshire - the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. Anyone studying economic history nowadays or for that matter anybody who’s looking for a great day out should visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museum The world’s first iron bridge straddling the Severn is the centerpiece of the valley that changed the world in the eighteenth century. This is where the Industrial Revolution began. It was here in 1709 that Abraham Darby pioneered the use of inexpensive coke rather than charcoal to smelt iron ore, which encouraged the use of iron in bridges, ships and buildings and transformed this tranquil and picturesque gorge into one of the world’s great iron making centers. Industrial decline in the twentieth century led to the gorge’s decay and its hard to believe that smoke once filled the fiery sky, tumult issued from the foundries’ forges and sulphurous fumes rose from furnaces, for today this deeply wooded, tranquil and beautiful valley strung along the banks of the River Severn has been transformed into one the world’s finest heritage museums. This is so very different from any other museum I’ve visited before, probably because it is not just one museum but several all of which present a unique insight into what life must have been like in those changing times. There are nine Museums altogether , spread out over the valley, and you have to travel between them using your own transport. If you want to see everything, you should allow at least a full day. The Iron Bridge is a good starting point and is in itself worth a visit to the area, a wonderful monument to the ironmasters’ skills in a beautiful setting. The toll-house on the south bank charts its construction. This is where you can buy tickets to visit the museums. Located in the old Severn Warehouse a short walk along the river from the Iron Bridge is the Museum of the Gorge. Built in the 1830’s this Gothic building was built by the Coalbrookdale Company to store their goods on the edge of the river. It’s a good idea to visit this museum first as it contains a 40ft scale model of the three mile stretch of the Ironbridge Gorge between Dale End (Coalbrookdale) and Coalport China Works putting into perspective what the gorge must have looked like in 1796. Further west of Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and the Museum of Iron trace the history of iron and the men who made it. The Darby Furnace is the original blast furnace used to smelt iron, and Dale House and Rosehill, the are the houses of Coalbrookdale, which remain within a landscape largely unchanged since the eighteenth century. This is where the Darby Ironmasters and their families lived and worked in eighteenth century homes, which have been painstakingly restored. This is where the Industrial Revolution was born - the first iron railway tracks, iron railway wheels and iron bridge and the first steam railway locomotive were all made here. A restored locomotive and cast iron statues commissioned for the Great Exhibition of 1851are among the a wealth of Coalbrookdale products on display. One of this museum’s main themes is the history of the Darby dynasty. They were a Quaker family who had a great impact on the community of Coalbrookdale and the larger than life exhibits show the social and working co nditions faced by the labourers who sometimes toiled for twenty four hours at a stretch. To the south of the Iron bridge is the Broseley Pipeworks Museum which contains the original equipment installed in the 1880s and used until the site was abandoned at the end of the 1950s. The resultant ‘time capsule’ remains the heart of this Museum, with other adjacent rooms used to explain the local clay tobacco pipe-making industry from its origins in the late 16th century through to 1960. Tools lie on the benches, clay is stacked in the yard – it appears as though the workers have just popped out for a lunch! There are more treasures to be found to the east of the Iron Bridge, where the Jackfield Tile Museum occupies a two storey, gas-lit factory were Victorian decorative tiles were made. Starting off as a ramshackle pottery it was transformed into the largest tile factory in the world making tiles and ceramics of the highest quality and using all the latest innovations, such as heating and ventilation. Nowadays the model works show logically how tiles were produced ‘from dust to dispatch’. Living in a village which is also famous for its tile and brickworks, I particularly liked the kaleidoscopic displays of colourful decorative tiles and ceramics and the 'Great Rock Sandwich' exhibition, explaining what lies under our feet. The Coalport China Museum is full of contemporary workshops, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Tthe Coalport and Caughley porcelain collections are displayed on the site of the original Coalport China Works and are designated of national importance. From the China Museum it is a short walk along the canal to the Tar Tunnel which was driven into the hillside in 1786 to connect the underground workings of the Blists Hill mines with the new Coalport Canal and the River Severn. However, when the tunnelers hit a spring of natural bitumen, it proved more lucrat ive to exploit that mineral than to use the tunnel to move coal to the river. Blists Hill Victorian Town is my personal favourite of the nine museums and is indeed the largest and most popular site. Set in 50 acres of woodland, Industrial monuments are preserved in-situ alongside reconstructed Victorian buildings to recreate in a very original way the environment of a late 19th century working town. The Shropshire Canal runs past the remains of a large brick and tile works to the incredible ‘Hay Inclined Plane’ which from 1792 to 1894 transported boats up and down the hillside between Blists Hill and Coalport separated by a vertical drop of 207 feet. Built up against the canal were three enormous blast furnaces which look like an abandoned castle and were operative until 1912. Most of the buildings in the Victorian town have been rescued and re-erected, or are replicas of existing structures elsewhere. Together they form a fascinating museum with a bank, chemist, public house, tinsmiths, bakers, candlemakers, saw mill, sweetshop, doctor’s surgery, school, iron foundry, ironworks, railway siding, funfair and much more. Visitors can exchange their modern money for Victorian pounds, shillings and pence. Museum staff wear authentic costumes and demonstrate everything from candle dipping to casting iron. The baker has beautiful fresh bread and the sweetshop sells all the old favourites, while the fairground brought back loads of memories of the days before Nemesis and the like. This really is an excellent day out and would be really useful for anyone following an economic and social history course as well as putting into perspective what life was like in those days. Someone told me that the museum had progressed a lot in the last twelve months, becoming much more interactive with a variety of different events taking place at weekends. The main season runs from late March to early November when all museum s are open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm. The Ironbridge Gorge is situated on the River Severn, 5 miles south of Telford in Shropshire. Take junction 4 from the M54, and brown and white signs take you straight to Blists Hill. Alternatively follow the signs to the town of Ironbridge itself and plan your visit from here starting at Tollhouse, The Museum of the Gorge or The Tourist Information Centre. Parking is free at all Museums, except the Museum of the Gorge and Ironbridge which are pay and display. Entry is by Passport Ticket which allow you to see as many of the museums as you wish, returning any time in the future to see the ones you missed. Adult tickets are £10.50, Concessions (children and students) £6.50 and Family tickets (2 adults and up to 5 children!) are £32.50 which believe me is excellent value for what must be one of the finest and most important heritage museums in Europe.
Bank Holiday Weekends. Where everyone gets time off work. Unless you work in a job where you have to work the Bank Holiday Weekends, in which case, you'll be bitter but double-paid. Unless you don't get double pay, in which case you'll just be bitter. I solved any potential bitterness by feigning amnesia, calling myself Norma Gayheart and going down to Shropshire for the whole weekend. This way, no one from work would care that I wasn't there, regardless if I was meant to be working or not, because I didn't know who or where I was. Problem solved, phone soon. During my long-weekend exile, I visited some places, like a true tourist. I even took my dad, brother and sister in-law along with me, in Dad's car, with him driving and me in the back - I was in complete control of our destination. I can only assume that it was therefore a complete chance that we stopped for the day at Blist Hills Victorian Town Museum, which is not far from lots of places and roads that we went on. In the interests of information provision, we accidentally drove down the A500 from Telford and caringly followed the lovely brown signs that hypnotised father into stopping. Rumour has it that all roads that lead to Rome also pass these brown signs and you will eventually find Blist Hills. Look for the big Iron bridge, whom has an inspirationally unique name, christened by locals who called it "IronBridge". Those of you who wish to punish these locals are out of luck, as they are conveniently all dead now, and they did build the thing in 1779. Blist Hills is on of a total of nine attractions siphoning a living from the IronBridge Gorge, where incidentally the Industrial revolution started. It is a Victorian town, where real Victorians live a real Victorian life. The Government breed the Victorian people in a room where you're not allowed to look in, or sometimes they used real modern people. The two are very similar, and I couldn't tell the difference at all. Once through the gates, you saunter down the path by the canal, past the thoroughly modern and oddly appealing Crèche, and to a canal-edged village. First stop for everybody it seams is the Old Lloyds Bank. In this pre-TSB-merger establishment, you can exchange your handy, modern tax-deducted earnings, for old money like your grandma gives you. This old money can be used to buy other old things like old bread from the old bakery, where they bake using old techniques, such as heating old yeast and other old stuff in an old oven until it's edible. Not like todays techniques, where you open the packet and there it is. This bread didn't even come sliced; they expect you to do that yourselves. The day I went, was the day after the night before, where I didn?t need the world to lose me an hour of my life by changing the clocks - I'd done that easily myself with my good friend Mr Smirnoff. So I was confused and the equivalent of Jet-lagged as it was. I was coming round out of my hungover hazed state when, whilst browsing through the old Chemists, a man came in and told the shop assistant that her husband was dead, killed in action according to the telegram she had. I felt awful, in that "oh god I'm still drunk, Shhhh" way. If that wasn't bad enough, moments later, a jobsworth copper arrested a Gypsy man, and for all I could deduce, his crime was being a Gypsy. I blame the parents. Other than the newly-widowed Chemists and the Bank, you can also observe an Iron Foundry in action and watch them do things with Iron that the cavemen could only Ug about. In the Butchers shop, for one Penny you can buy some really horrid Pork scratchings. One Penny is 40p, this is obvious because 2½d is £1.00 and one pound is £96.00 you see? Gasp as the candle maker lets you touch his wick just after he's dipped it, Marvel at the pigs, Hens, lonely Donkey and quite probably the worlds largest Horse, who by my amateur estimations was at least massive, if not Enormous. There are several other establishments you can look in, but by far the longest queue in the museum is for the Confectioners store, who don?t actually sell old things, but anarchically, they stock their shelves with modernity's. The Museum is named after the Blist Hill Blast Furnaces, which are towards the bottom of a hill, past the smelly Pigs and the estate agents on the left and opposite a gypsy fair on the green. The Policeman would have his hands full down here without a doubt. These Blast Furnaces are just like all other archaeological discoveries, in the way that they are a "series of small walls" although there is the odd huge wall, but that could be the back of a Tesco's for all I know. To have the honour of walking around this time-warped town, you have to pay. And it's not cheap so get a grown up to help you with this part. Adults £8 each Children £4 each OAP?s / Soapdodgers £5 each These prices are just for the entry into this one Museum, but as there are another 8 sites you can visit in the area, there is a 'Passport' available for around £30 for 2 adults and up to 5 children, which grants access to all 9 locations over an unlimited time period, or until you lose it / wash it / give it to the orphans. The Village itself can quite easily fill a full day to look round and learn the ways we used to do things before we got good at computers, and is probably quite well worth the entry fee. At least it's not the old money exchange rates for the entrance fees, which would mean I'd have paid £768 per adult to get in. blimey.
I have just come back from Broseley, which is about a mile and half from Ironbridge. It was a quick break as we have so many commitments we did not think that we could go for a week. So we went for 3 nights in a B&B. It cost us £110 for an en-suite for three nights and the people where really nice. I had already done some research on what to see and there is a lot to see. The original reason for going was that in Telford 5 miles from Broseley was an exhibition that I wanted to see. So we thought that rather than go up just for the day to stay a few. We went up on Sunday and just had a look around Broseley. But we had already decided to take in a few museums. The Ironbridge Gorge Museums are group of 9 attractions. We went first to the Jackfield Tile Museum. But as we about 10minutes early we went for a walk. As I knew from the map that we there where a couple close as well. The museums are all in a six square mile area so you don't have to drive for miles. The first one that we went to was The tar Tunnels. It is where they use to mine tar from. The price as £1 each but we bought the passports that cost £10 per adult and £30 for a family. A family if two adults and up to five children. Yes that right five children. So it is good value for money. We where not going to go to all the museums as where only there for three nights. A few hundred yards up the river path is the coal port museum. All about coal port china. That cost about £3.90 each. As well as the history you could look around the buildings as well. They don't use the factory any more. There were people who showing off skills. In one of the buildings was a woman making bone china flowers. It was really interesting. We stopped and chatted and watched for bout 10 minutes. You could buy the finished flowers for 30p each. They are unglazed so you can paint or varnish them. After wandering around for about half an hour we wandered back to the tile museum. Again I think that was about £3.90 each. It followed the history tiles. Boring you might think. But no. There were loads to look at. I never knew that lots of tiles of nursery rhymes where made up and sold to hospitals to put up in their childrens wards. That took up all of Monday morning. Then we went to Blist Hill, which is brilliant. It is a Victorian town re-created. It covers a lot of land. And have people dressed in period costume. There is a lot to see and you can buy lots of things to. You can change up your money in the bank for tokens that you can spend anywhere in the village. We did have a good look around. As there where not many people there we did the whole village in couple of hours. But you could stay all day if you had children. The cost is £7.50 so already we have got our moneys worth from the passport already. The we went to Ironbridge and went to Museum of the gorge. There are plenty of interactive displays to look at. The recommend about 45 minutes to look around. There is even a film that lasts about 5 minutes. It covers all the other museums that are in the group. It took us about 35 minutes. One of the most amazing facts was the flood height of the river. Only last December did they have the worst floods in hundreds of years. It even flooded in Tourist Information centre, which is now based in the TollHouse on the far side of the bridge. Until they have finished the work so they can re-open. We did one more museum the next day, which was Coalbrookedale museum of Iron. This is about how The Darby Family had started a foundry and how they built the IronBridge which makes Ironbridge famous. Again there is lots to look at and read. Most of the museums open at 10am and close at 5pm. There are couple that we did not go. As we said we where only there for a couple of days. And I think that we packed a lot in to it. We did have info rmation over load. But if it was done over three or four days rather than two you might take a more in then I did. But it was a lovely break. And the weather was overcast but it did not rain during the day. It did not matter if it had, as most of the museums are indoors. I would recommend that you buy a passport as it will save you money. I think that it must have saved us about £10 each. And for family the saving could be double that.
In November 1997, as part of a wonderful Dr. Who weekend, a group of around thirty people were privileged to spend three days with two stars of the popular TV programme. So it was that we ended up visiting the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire – me, my partner, my father, my eldest daughter – oh, and Colin Baker and Deborah Watling! One of the stories from Dr. Who was filmed at Ironbridge, which was the main reason for our day trip there. The 1985 story Mark of the Rani, starring Colin Baker as the Doctor, used the scenery to great affect. The story was set around the time of the Industrial Revolution, which is the period reconstructed by the working community of Blists Hill, part of the museum’s attraction. We watched the video of Mark of the Rani in the coach, while Colin himself added interesting comments, before we reached the place it was filmed. Rather surreal, but an unforgettable experience. The Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire was the heart of the huge changes brought in by the Industrial Revolution, with the iron bridge itself being built in 1779. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was established in 1967, with the first part being open to the public in 1973. There are now eight museums, covering eighty acres of land. So wear sensible shoes! Set in beautiful surroundings, there are a host of attractions here and you can easily spend six hours or so looking round. Some of the original features of Blists Hill still remain, with other newer attractions built in the old style, so there are no ugly, ultra-modern buildings here. Blists Hill Victorian Town is where we spent the most time. This is a whole village set in that era – a bank where you can change your money into old currency, then various shops where you can spend them. The old industries are well represented too, so you can walk along the paths and really get a taste of how things used to be. There is a plumbers, confectioner’ s shop, chemist, pub, cobbler’s shop, printing shop and a draper, for example. There are some nice souvenirs to be bought at not too extortionate prices. There are also places to buy refreshments and toilet facilities. The facilities for the disabled are detailed in the website, but it seems fairly accessible, as we saw several wheelchairs while we were there. It can get muddy though, so this should be taken into consideration. The kids will love the old fashioned fairground – in fact, my Dad loved it too! There are several stalls such as roll-a-ball to win a prize, also swing boats which are great fun and carousels. There was also a huge pig walking round this part and my daughter had a ride on it, although it got fed-up of her at one point and pushed her off. Colin Baker was walking alongside her and caught her. Not many people can say they have been thrown off a pig and caught by Dr. Who! If you enjoy walking, there are many places you can visit while burning off a few calories. The blacksmiths, wrought ironworks and the Mission Church are at the far end of the village, but Blists Hill Mine is a nice short walk for the less adventurous. Other museum sites include the Teddy Bear Shop is a must-see for us fans of everything cuddly, selling a range by Merrythought Ltd. The Coalport China Museum might be worth a visit for those who appreciate such objects, or maybe the Jackfield Tile Museum. There is certainly something for everyone. The Museum of the Gorge may be a good place to start a visit, providing a useful background to the site and detailing the historical relevance of the place. The forty foot model of the Gorge is a popular feature of this museum. Check the website for further details, but basically the museums are open from April to November, 10am-5pm. Telephone 01952-432166 for further information. Purchasing a Passport ticket costs £30 for a family (two adults and up to five children un der eighteen), £10 for an adult, £9 for OAPs and £6 for children or students. These admit you to all the attractions or you can pay for individual ones as you wish. According to the Shropshire website, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum is currently still open, despite the Foot and Mouth Crisis, but it would still be advisable to ring first just to check, if you are making a long journey. So where to find it - Ironbridge is situated on the River Severn, five miles south of Telford in Shropshire. Take junction 4 from the M54. Brown and white signs direct you to Blists Hill Victorian Town, which is one of the museums. Facts taken from www.ironbridge.org.uk and pretty pictures available at www.virtual-shropshire.co.uk/ironbridge-tour
Ironbridge Gorge itself is a World Heritage site which was at the centre of the industrial revolution which marked the start of our progression to the 21st century. The Ironbridge which spans the River Severn is a quite amazing and awesome sight and even without the history surrounding it makes a worthwhile destination. The Ironbridge Gorge Museums are fascinating insights into the world as it was during the industrial revolution and if one wishes to visit more than one of the sites a 'Passport' is available allowing all of the sites to be visited. It is possible to visit all sites in one day but we have found that the Blists Hill site is one which you can spend all day at and also return time and again. Children can find lots to do here and will learn a lot.