The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is pleased to announce that the Museum of the Gorge in Ironbridge is now open following essential conservation work. Visitors to the museum, a former warehouse used to transport goods by river during the Industrial Revolution, are able to see the building’s architecture, enjoy new displays and learn more about the building’s history.
In 2021 Historic England paid for urgent repair to the roof of the Museum of the Gorge, a grade II* listed building, to prevent rain ingress. In 2023, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, a fund created to safeguard nationally important heritage following the years of disruption due to Covid-19, funded substantial maintenance work including replacing valley gutters that are hidden from view. With the support of other generous benefactors it was possible to reinstate the pitched roof of the Lady Chapel and install replicas of the ornate chimney pots which once crowned the building’s towers, one of its striking gothic features.
Visitors will notice that this historic building has been stripped back, allowing you to see its structure. Original bricks are laid bare, revealing the bare bones of this important industrial building.
As they explore the architectural details of the museum, which is free of charge, they will be able to learn about the history of the building, including the most recent conservation work that took place in 2023. A panel addresses the subject of flooding, at the museum and more widely in the Ironbridge Gorge. Located on the banks on the River Severn, the building is regularly affected by flooding, most recently in January 2024.
Visitors are also able to see a small display of reproductions of historic maps of Shropshire from the Patricia Bracegirdle Collection, which show the development of the county, its transport systems and its towns during the Industrial Revolution.
Historically the Museum of the Gorge has been the place where first-time visitors to the Gorge orientate themselves. Visitors can access information and buy the most appropriate tickets and annual passes for visiting the Gorge’s museums.
Following the conservation work the building is now structurally sound and waterproof and the next phase of the project will be to develop the interior. This phase of the development is currently being planned by the Trust, a heritage conservation and education charity, and will be completed once funding has been secured. The Trust’s intention is that the building will be used by its local community as well as by visitors to the Ironbridge Gorge. There will be an opportunity for visitors to make their own suggestions and give their views on how the building could be used.
Nick Ralls, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said, “We are delighted to be able to welcome visitors back to the Museum of the Gorge after a year of closure. In recent years, the Museum of the Gorge has been the first place many tourists go when they arrive in the Ironbridge Gorge to find out about the unique UNESCO World Heritage Site they are about to visit.
“We are grateful for the NHMF funding that enabled us to carry out essential conservation work and to Historic England and the other generous benefactors who have contributed to the building’s conservation. We look forward to being able to begin the next phase of work.”
The conservation work, carried out in two phases, was made possible by funding from Historic England and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Another £80,000 of donations came from the Aslackby Trust, the Coral Samuel Charitable Trust, the Edith Murphy Foundation, Garthgwynion Charities (The Margaret Owen Trust), the Grimmitt Trust, the Headley Trust, the Rowlands Trust, the Sabina Sutherland Charitable Trust, the Walker Trust and from a JustGiving appeal and donations from Ironbridge Reforged – History & Archaeology of Museum of The Gorge.
For full details of ticket and annual pass prices, activities and events at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust visit https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/