NEWS FROM THE GORGE
By Ann Evans
Ironbridge in Shropshire is the place to be at the moment, with lots going on for families to enjoy all year round. But from today until Sunday 2nd August there’s also a traditional Victorian Country Fair taking place at Blists Hill Victorian Town.
You can take a trip back in time to experience life in the days of the Industrial Revolution, and see how the Victorians lived, entertained themselves and relaxed. You can join in by taking part in some good old fashioned games on The Green such as apple bobbing, musical chairs, sack races and tug-of-war. There will also be demonstrations and entertainment from the Prince Albert Players.
Working horse demonstrations will take place all week. You can even have a go at ‘driving’ a Victorian horse yourself; and Victorian townsfolk will be demonstrating country crafts such as rag rug making and wood carving.
Explore the Victorian town and meet the residents going about their daily lives in the authentic houses and shops, baking bread, counting coins at the bank, and talking about Victorian remedies in the chemist. You can even take your pet pooch along to the country fair to enter the daily fun dog show, with rosettes for the Best in Show.
Blists Hill is just one of the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, and another of the museums in the limelight is the Gorge Museum which has re-opened its doors following a major refurbishment. Thanks to support from the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform, Art Happens, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has been able to redisplay the collections in new cases, upgrade the lighting, replace all of the interpretation panels and install new state of the art equipment into the auditorium.
The new exhibits and displays will help visitors discover more about the many and varied industries that flourished in the Gorge and the crucial role that transport played in supplying raw materials as well as dispatching finished goods to market. New bespoke cases house fine examples of tiles, ceramics and cast-iron objects that were made in The Gorge and interactive displays give younger visitors a chance to play and learn.
The stunning 40 foot model of the Ironbridge Gorge remains at the centre of the museum’s displays and illustrates life in the valley in 1796. The vast model allows a glimpse of life on the day the Prince and Princess of Orange visited the Gorge and crossed the world’s first cast-iron bridge with smoke billowing from furnace chimneys and boats criss-crossing the River Severn.
Visitors can enjoy a 12-minute video in the museum’s auditorium that explains the complex history of the Ironbridge Gorge and the characters that helped shape the Industrial Revolution. The upgraded audio-visual equipment that was installed as part of the redevelopment will allow the museum to develop a varied programme of screenings, from historic Pathé footage to
community film events. The space will also be available for the local community to hire for events, film screenings and small-scale performances.
For further information, opening times and admission prices, contact the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk. The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).
Photos courtesy of Ironbridge Museums