Shropshire Star

Work on multi-million pound Ironbridge heritage repair project under way

Millions of pounds of conservation work on some of Shropshire and the UK's most important historic sites is under way.

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Nick Ralls, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said the funding would help protect vital pieces of history

A three-year project of repair and conservation work on buildings in the care of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has begun with the Museum of the Gorge.

The programme, supported by a £9.9 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund earlier this year, will support work to repair and conserve 49 scheduled monuments and listed buildings across the Ironbridge Gorge.

The funding was awarded to the trust in an effort to counter any long-term impacts of the pandemic, through the Cultural Assets Fund.

The aim of the fund is to safeguard nationally important heritage following the years of disruption due to Covid.

Nick Ralls, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said the funding would help protect vital pieces of history.

He said: "We are pleased to see work commencing on the Conserving the Historic Estate Project beginning at the Museum of the Gorge.

"We are very grateful to have received such a substantial grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

"The project as a whole protects the historic buildings and structures that, many in their original context, help tell the story of the birth and growth of industry in the Gorge and beyond."

The Museum of the Gorge

The Ironbridge Gorge is internationally recognised as the ‘symbol of the 18th century Industrial Revolution’ through its World Heritage site status.

The Museum of the Gorge, a Grade II* warehouse with many gothic features will be one of the first buildings to be tackled.

Over the next few months, the leaking roof will be replaced masonry re-pointed, vegetation removed, the original roof to the Lady Chapel will be reinstated, and replicas of the ornate chimney pots, which once crowned the roof towers of the Museum of the Gorge, will be reinstated.

The project as a whole focuses on heritage buildings and structures across the Gorge in the care of the trust, within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, including five Scheduled Monuments, one Grade I Listed structure, 10 Grade II* Listed structures and 19 Grade II Listed structures – all within an area of 5.5 square km.

The conservation project will include work on many of the significant structures and buildings in the trust's care.

They include the Old Furnace at Coalbrookdale where Abraham Darby I developed the production technique for smelting iron with coke, which was a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution that transformed much of the wider world in the 18th century.

Others are the Bedlam Furnaces – the remains of two 18th century blast furnaces built in 1757 which produced castings for the Iron Bridge, the impressive clock tower with a gilded finial which was added to the Great Warehouse of the Coalbrookdale Company in 1843, and the Coalport China Works, which produced some of England’s finest china in the 19th century, and is now the site of Coalport China Museum.

The trust said there will also be opportunities for anyone interested in finding out about the work to see some of it close up during the project.

The trust said it is also keen to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer to help look after the buildings.

More information is available at