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Shropshire floods: Clean-up continues as museums prepare to count the cost

Telford | Attractions | Published:

Costly clean-up operations have begun at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums following the floods.

Nick Ralls, chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Nick Ralls, chief executive officer of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said it was too early to know just how much damage the floods had caused at its museums.

Museum of the Gorge, the Jackfield Tile Museum and the Coalport China Museum

Luckily exhibits were protected from damage, but the cost of repairs will take away from funds that could be better used elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the doors are still open at Blists Hill Victorian Town and Enginuity.

Nick Ralls, chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, with flood gauge

"We're realistic," Mr Ralls said. "It goes without saying that because some of our museums are close to the river, we expect flooding.

"What has taken the region by surprise is the extent and the height of the flooding and how rapidly it occurred.

"In The Museum of the Gorge, you can see the mark on the window that the water reached, and it's very close to the previous high level in 2000. It was close to 7m – the normal height for this time of year is 3-4m."

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Staff went in and lifted exhibits so that they were protected from the water.

But shop stock has been lost and investigations are continuing on the damage from both water and wind over the last few weeks.

Nick Ralls, chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Mr Ralls said: "We're at the early stages of clean-up, which is costly because you have to go through decontamination. It has to be cleaned to a very professional level because you don't know what's left after the floods.

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"We've had two storms, the extent of which isn't fully known. I can't say, for example, whether we need to do anything with the floor at the Museum of the Gorge.

"We have had the double whammy of damage and then weather warnings and messages asking people to stay away from the Gorge. Half-term is usually a busy part of our season, and we'll see depleted visitor numbers by the end of the half term.

"We're inflicted on both sides of the coin."

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