Full steam ahead as Blists Hill Victorian Town gears up for reopening weekend

Visitors are preparing to step back in time as a popular period attraction prepares to reopen to a great reception.

Staff at Blists Hill preparing to reopen [no names provided]
Staff at Blists Hill preparing to reopen [no names provided]

Bosses at Blists Hill Victorian Town have predicted a sell-out after strong ticket sales for its reopening weekend, as the attraction gets ready to welcome back visitors for the first time in months.

Blists Hill will open its doors on weekends throughout April and May, starting with a fun-filled steam-themed weekend on April 17 and 18.

And people are being told to book soon, or miss out on the chance to be part of the reopening weekend.

To ensure appropriate social distancing measures can be maintained, all tickets need to be pre-booked ahead of the day, with no entry available on the door.

Tickets are flying out according to Nick Ralls, chief executive of The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, the charity that runs Blists Hill and other attractions in the Gorge.

“We’ve seen phenomenal ticket demand so far, with people telling us they can’t wait to visit," he said.

“Judging by the level of sales, the first weekend will be a sell-out – so people need to get in quickly and buy their tickets if they’re hoping to come along.”

The air will be filled with the smell of hot oil and steam for the opening weekend, as Blists Hill marks the 250th anniversary of the father of high-pressure steam, Richard Trevithick. The town’s replica of Trevithick’s 1802 Coalbrookdale engine will be in operation.

As well as the town’s Wallis & Steevens steam roller ‘Billy’, the streets will be filled with five visiting full-size portable road locomotives of various makes and types including a steam car. There will also be a number of miniatures engines of various scales.

Treat

Mr Ralls said: “We introduced bookable entry time lots last year to ensure we could manage demand and keep our visitors safe – it worked so well that we’re continuing with the system. It does mean there’s absolutely no entry without a pre-booked ticket, but the feedback we’ve had from the public is the system worked really well.

“We’ve put a number of enhanced Covid-safe measures into place to ensure people can visit with full confidence. Visitors will be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces alongside the entrance Visitor Centre and gift shop. Many of our visitors’ favourite traditional shops will be open too, including the chemist, grocers, printers, sweet shop, bakery and Victorian market.”

The Furnace Kitchen in Coalbrookdale will also reopen for weekend takeaway and outdoor table service from April 16 onwards.

The trust’s remaining attractions, including Enginuity, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum, will reopen in May once national Covid restrictions are further relaxed.

Mr Ralls said: “People are in for a treat when they’re finally allowed back into our other museums, with lots of exciting new changes at Enginuity and revamped displays at Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum.

“The new Madeley Wood Outdoor Adventure at Blists Hill, which is due to open in July, is also starting to take shape. All in all, it’s looking like an exciting summer. Access to the Outdoor Adventure will be included in our popular Annual Pass so families can come back to enjoy our newest attraction again and again."

Limited opening weekend tickets remain on sale for timed entry slots via the trust’s website at ironbridge.org.uk.

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