New Visitor Centre for Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge

By Culture24 Staff | 17 July 2009
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a photo of a building with steam engines in it

The new Visitor Centre at Blists Hill

A new Visitor Centre is the latest addition to the £12 million refurbished Blists Hill Victorian Town at the Ironbridge Gorge complex of industrial museums and heritage sites.

The new centre at the iconic historical site in the West Midlands, which is currently celebrating the 300th anniversary of the industrial revolution, opens to the public on Monday July 20. It is designed to act as a dramatic gateway to Blists Hill Victorian Town, the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and the wider West Midlands region.

Visitors who enter the main exhibition hall will be greeted with nine separate projectors creating massive images on 9 metre high walls, telling the harsh reality of the evolution of the mining and hot metal industries and why Ironbridge was so important to the development of industry.

The Visitor Centre, together with a new car park, is part of a massive ongoing redevelopment of the Victorian town funded by Advantage West Midlands and The European Regional Development Fund.

“Following the successful opening of Canal Street at Easter, we are thrilled to be able to open our new Visitor Centre in time for the school holidays,” said Steve Miller, Chief Executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. “The painstaking work and fabulous design of this landmark building has produced a real ‘wow’ factor for visitors.”

an architectural drawing

The building was designed by specialist architectural practice Nash Partnership of Bath with support from Osbornes Architects and was constructed by Mansell Construction Services Ltd.

The first family through the gates at 10am on Monday, 20th July, will be taken around the £12 million refurbished town in a horse and cart, given the chance to dress up in period costume and have their portrait taken as well as being able to enjoy a meal at the specially designed new restaurant.

“The town is all about inviting people to take part in the magic of a time travel experience and we wanted to celebrate the occasion by inviting our first visitors to be our VIPs for the day,” said Steve.

Designed also to serve visitors as they leave Blists Hill Victorian Town, the new Centre will help people find out more about the remarkable Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site with the help of a giant interactive three dimensional map. Visitors will be able to look out over a balcony containing flywheels, boilers and other large-scale remnants of the area’s industrial past.

“Ironbridge has a very special place in history and this major project has meant we can proudly say we are adding to its iconic status for future generations, in the year in which we are also celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Industrial Revolution,” added Steve.

Designed by specialist architectural practice Nash Partnership of Bath with support from Osbornes Architects and constructed by Mansell Construction Services Ltd, the Centre also houses a new shop and restaurant.

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