Shropshire Star

Gorge museums ready to welcome visitors following improvement works

Two ceramics museums in Shropshire saw major investment last year as bosses at The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust took advantage of enforced closure due to the pandemic.

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Coalport china museum

Last year Ironbridge Gorge Museums received some £1.14 million from the Arts Council England-delivered Covid Recovery Fund.

Thanks to the Covid Recovery funding, Jackfield Tile Museum and Coalport China Museum, two of the Trust’s most popular sites, underwent a series of improvement works which included updating some of the galleries, where displays were refreshed and re-displayed and signage was updated. The Trust, a registered charity, saw around 340,000 fewer visitors than expected last year due to restrictions and closures introduced in response to the pandemic. With 80 per cent of its revenue coming from visitors and the Trust costing £6 million annually to run, bosses said the funding will be a ‘lifeline’.

As part of this year’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the iconic Craven Dunnill Jackfield Ltd company name sign on the exterior wall of what is now Jackfield Tile Museum was repainted by hand by specialist heritage conservationists.

Jackfield Tile Museum

Across the Gorge, at Blists Hill Victorian Town, a major project was unveiled in the woodland of the award-winning open-air museum. The Madeley Wood Co. Outdoor Adventure, a specially designed outdoor play area, opened to huge praise from visitors with children of all ages.

The Outdoor Adventure is inspired by the area’s industrial past and features slides, zip-lines, raised walkways and a dedicated area for younger children. There is a covered seating area and catering outlet.

Two of the Victorian Town’s most visited attractions, the Iron Foundry and the Blacksmith’s Forge, have also benefited from investment which organisers hope will enhance the visitor experience. Groups visiting the town will now be able to see the iron foundry in action most Wednesday mornings while the blacksmith works at his newly installed forge on most days.