Ironbridge Gorge Museums boss disappointed to close but says lockdown is 'understandable'

The chief executive of a leading Shropshire tourist attraction has expressed disappointment at having to close but said a second national lockdown was "understandable".

Nick Ralls, chief executive at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust
Nick Ralls, chief executive at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Nick Ralls, of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, promised the museum would be working to welcome visitors back as soon as it could reopen in December.

The trust began a partial reopening of its sites in July following closure due to the first national lockdown.

Mr Ralls said: "Naturally we are disappointed that all our museums will be closed again during the lockdown period.

“The response from the public since our partial reopening in July has been wonderful and we have been delighted to welcome so many visitors to the sites through our timed ticket entry system.

“For the time being all our sites will be closed, but we are absolutely determined that when we are able to reopen in early December we will be able to provide people with a Christmas experience they will remember – and the Christmas we all deserve after such a difficult year.

“We know that after another period of lockdown people will be desperate to get out and enjoy a safe, magical festive season, and that is just what we have lined up. We will refund or reschedule any booking we are not able to honour because of coronavirus, so I’d urge everyone to book for Christmas now to make sure they don’t miss out.”

Mr Ralls said a number of staff would be placed on furlough during the lockdown and that the museum would continue to develop its digital offer, particularly for schools.

Education

“We will continue to do everything we can when we do reopen to ensure our museums meet all the latest safety guidelines and comply with any restrictions the Government imposes,” Mr Ralls added.

“Even though we are closed for a month, we will still be able to offer some fantastic resources to schools and continue to develop our exciting online offer, such as the Museum from Home initiative.

"It is really important to us that despite the current situation we continue to fulfil our mission to educate and inspire the next generation about the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.”

Throughout lockdown the Furnace Kitchen in Coalbrookdale will be open for takeaway pizza on Friday evenings and for Sunday lunch take out.

The trust, a registered education and heritage conservation charity which cares for 35 listed buildings in the Gorge, said it expects a £4 million shortfall in revenue this year as a result of the pandemic.

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