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'We are tremendously grateful': Ironbridge Gorge Museums trust welcomes £500k grant

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Attractions | Published: | Last Updated:

A half a million pound grant for one of the county's most important tourist attractions "could not have come at a better time", according to its chief executive.

Nick Ralls, chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has welcomed the funding from the Arts Council England.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was awarded £500,000 by Arts Council England to help it recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

The grant – from the Arts Council’s Emergency Response Fund – comes after the world-famous museums were closed for three months due to the coronavirus lockdown, meaning all ticket income to support the charity vanished overnight.

The trust – a registered education and heritage conservation charity which cares for 36 listed buildings in the Gorge – said it was delighted with the award, which comes just days after it reopened four of its ten sites

Chief executive Nick Ralls said: “The announcement of this award could not have come at a better time. In a week when we were finally able to reopen some of our sites to visitors for the first time in more than 100 days.

“This award will help us continue to offer visitors an unforgettable day out, to preserve the fantastic industrial heritage we have in the Gorge and to carry on our educational work inspiring new generations by bringing the stories of the Industrial Revolution to life.

"We are an important part of the regional tourism economy and we want to play our part in welcoming visitors back to the Gorge.

“We are tremendously grateful to Arts Council England not only for this grant but for all the help and support they have provided to the trust over the years.

“There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt the heaviest blow to our nation’s cultural life for very many years and it is through the work of bodies such as the Arts Council that we can begin to emerge and plan for the future.”

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The Arts Council award was part of a further £33million of grant funding made to 196 cultural organisations across England.

The Ironbridge Gorge was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and to date approximately 16 million tourists have visited the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Last month the Telford Land Deal Board and Telford &Wrekin Council, Marches Local Enterprise Partnership agreed that £230,000 from the LEP’s Marches Investment Fund could also be used to support the trust.

This week it reopened Blists Hill Victorian Town, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and The Iron Bridge Tollhouse for the first time in more than 100 days whilst the Museum of The Gorge also opened as a free entry visitor centre.

Strict social distancing measures have been put in place along with an enhanced cleaning and hygiene regime, measures to control visitor numbers, clearly marked routes through the sites and timed entries.

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