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Beloved museum attraction plans big celebration to mark 50 years of living history

Blists Hill Victorian Town is celebrating its 50th birthday with a day of partying just like the Victorians.

Jess Hodgkiss, Ross Davidson, Joanne Halstead, Gemma Hatfield and Gregory Vernon
Jess Hodgkiss, Ross Davidson, Joanne Halstead, Gemma Hatfield and Gregory Vernon

50 years since opening to the public, Blists Hill Victorian Town is marking the milestone with a day of celebration.

Opening on April 1, 1973, the museum was an immediate hit as a radical new kind of living museum on a grand scale.

Leading up to the opening, hundreds of volunteers had laboured for years to clear 42 acres and unearth the remains of the industrial structures original to the site, including a section of the Shropshire Canal and the giant Madeley Wood Company blast furnaces.

Nearly half of Blists Hill’s 40 shops, businesses and homes were relocated brick-by-brick, timber-by-timber. Most came from areas of dereliction and demolition around the Ironbridge Gorge, Telford and the exhausted East Shropshire coalfields.

Blists Hill Victorian Town is getting ready to celebrate its 50th birthday

The site has grown throughout the ages, with more and more traditional buildings arriving, including the Butchers and the on-site pub The New Inn in the 80s.

In 2009, the town gained a new thoroughfare, Canal Street, complete with small trades, services and residential housing, an inclined lift to aid access, a new mine railway experience and a new visitor centre.

More recently, the site also introduced The Madeley Wood Company Outdoor Adventure, named after the company that historically ran mine operations on the site.

Over the years, the museum has been used as a filming location for various TV and film programmes including Doctor Who, Blue Peter, and more recently, The Masked Singer.

To celebrate 50 years of educating and entertaining, staff and volunteers at the museum are hosting a programme of events throughout the year.

This Saturday, April 1, the festivities will kick off with a Celebration Day.

Chief operating officer, Abbie King says: “There is no better time to come and enjoy the experience of Blists Hill Victorian Town than on our 50th birthday.

"The Celebration Day will be a true reflection of the best that the site has to offer, with a chance to see, hear, smell, taste and touch authentic Victorian history.

"The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has worked hard over the years to grow the site and give visitors a really authentic experience.

"Blists Hill plays a vital role in the whole history of the gorge and is so important for education, historical preservation and regional tourism.

"We hope more and more people will come to see us over the next 50 years to make sure our history is preserved and remembered for years to come.”

The museum will be showcasing the best of Blists Hill throughout the day with the streets being decorated for the occasion, and there will be an opportunity for visitors to see and get involved with unique crafts and trades as part of a recreation of a traditional Mop Fair.

Visitors will be able to try their hand at activities such as tile-making, printing, candle -ipping, pipe-making and even blacksmithing.

The celebrations will culminate in a parade led by the Wellington Brass Band.

Activities are included in the admission price, and tickets can be booked in advance online at

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