Shropshire Star

Blists Hill to mark 50th anniversary with jam-packed year - with special tickets available

From town fairs to a taste of the seaside in Shropshire, visitors to Blists Hill Victorian Town are invited to join the celebrations throughout 2023 as The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust marks the town’s 50th anniversary.

Blists Hill celebrates its 50th anniversary next month

Blists Hill opened to the public on April 1, 1973 and replicates life at the end of the Victorian era, where visitors can discover what it was like to live and work at the turn of the 20th century in Shropshire.

To celebrate its 50th year, The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is running a competition for Star readers to win one of 50 Golden Tickets offering unlimited family entry to all 10 of its award-winning museums for a whole year – a year which will be marked by some fantastic celebratory events.

Kicking off events on Saturday 1 April 1 will be a Celebration Day to mark the town’s official opening in 1973. Blists Hill will hold a traditional mop fair. Dating back to the 14th century, mop fairs were an annual event where workers like farm labourers, servants and farm workers would be matched with employers.

With the town’s iconic Victorian streets dressed for the occasion, visitors can try their hand at a traditional trade, hear more about the town’s humble beginnings or take part in a parade. The trust promises a summer of fun starting on May 13 and 14 with the popular Heavy Horse Weekend. The town’s beloved Shire Horses and some hooved guests will demonstrate the vital roles that heavy horses played in Victorian times.

Blists Hill opened on April 1, 1973

Hundreds of steampunk fans will take to the streets on June 24 and 25 bringing their unique blend of sci-fi, Victoriana and engineering as the town plays host to weird and wonderful creations of all shapes and sizes.

Sir Neil Cossons, the first director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (1971 – 1983) and Britain’s leading authority on industrial heritage, will give a talk on the creation of Blists Hill on Wednesday 19 July 19.

New for 2023, from July 24 – September 3, visitors can enjoy all the fun of the seaside right here in Shropshire with Blists Hill’s very own beach. With buckets, spades and sandcastles galore, the beach is the perfect place to entertain the little ones during the summer holidays. Visitors to Blists Hill Victorian Town will also be able to take a spin on the much-loved gallopers – a carousel – as they return in the summer to be part of the town’s traditional fairground.

It’s full steam ahead from August 12-13 for Blists Hills Steam Weekend when history fans will get the chance to see how the Victorians harnessed steam to power their engines and machinery - allowing visitors the rare chance to see a variety of steam-powered vehicles up close.

50 golden tickets for Blists Hill are up for grabs

In honour of the town’s disco era origins, on August 19 Blists Hill will be transported from 1900 with a 70s themed evening where guests will don their finest flares to enjoy an evening of music, party food and entertainment from the era.

Autumn brings with it the unique opportunity to spend a day in the life of a Victorian printer or a blacksmith, donning traditional attire to learn age-old crafting techniques. The bookable experiences for up to two people include lunch, refreshments and museum entry.

The winter season gets off to a dazzling start with Fireworks Night on The Green on November 4 ahead of the Christmas festivities. The trust is promising a season to remember with the return of their popular Christmas Weekends and dazzling Christmas grotto experiences - the perfect way to ring in the festive season with the whole family.