Appeals and Projects

spry cover

Projects in the Pipeline…

Blists Hill Victorian Town - Opening date: April 2015

Work is progressing well on the new cover building for the Spry at Blists Hill Victorian Town which will create a fantastic new all-weather exhibit for our visitors, allowing people to better understand the important role that transport played in the Industrial Revolution.

This development has been made possible thanks to a legacy that was left to the Museum by a long-time supporter.

The Spry is the last surviving lower Severn trow which would have navigated the lower Severn estuary carrying vital goods. The new plans for the Spry will leave her in the same position at Blists Hill Victorian Town but with a new cover building, designed to be in keeping with the rest of the site, and fully enclosing the boat. A new interpretation scheme will chart the history of the Spry and Severn trows, her restoration and link the transport story to the Canal and river.

In addition to this, we will also be creating a new building to house the Trevithick locomotive which will also include a redisplay of the ice-breaker and tub boat which formerly sat alongside the Spry. These plans will not only help to protect these historically important collections but will also more fully narrate the transport story on Blists Hill Victorian Town and link this to our other sites within the Gorge.


Museum of the Gorge – Opening date: June 2015

Thanks to the hundreds of generous donors who took part in the Art Happens crowdfunding campaign, we are now working to transform the Museum of The Gorge through a complete redesign of the gallery and an upgrade of the existing auditorium, to create a dynamic space that can be used for museum and community events.

The iconic building that houses this museum lies at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. It was built in 1834 in a gothic style and once served as the Severn Warehouse for the Coalbrookdale Company. Goods would be brought down from the furnaces and forges in Coalbrookdale and shipped down the river Severn to the markets of Gloucester, Bristol and the Empire beyond.

Set right on the river, with wonderful views of the Iron Bridge, the new museum will narrate the story of how the river, roads, railways and canals came together to make the Gorge a vibrant hub of industry from the 1600s right up to the 1950s.

Once completed, the Museum of The Gorge will be the starting point for visitors wanting to explore the unique museums and landscapes of Ironbridge.

Upgraded audio-visual equipment will enable us to develop a varied programme of screenings, from historic Pathé footage to community film events.


Bedlam Furnaces – Opening date: Autumn 2015

This Grade II* listed Scheduled Ancient Monument has had a long and varied history but is now, unfortunately, categorised as ‘High Risk’ on English Heritage’s Register of Heritage at Risk and is in need of urgent stabilisation and conservation.  Several severe winters and the exposed nature of the structure have caused the deterioration of the brickwork and hard cappings and the general deterioration in its condition.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is working hard to raise the funding needed to preserve Bedlam Furnaces; a site rightly understood as one of the most important industrial monuments in the UK.

A decision has been made to create a roof over the structure, protecting the monument from the elements and presenting many opportunities for improved interpretation and increased access to this iconic industrial structure.

The principle aims of the project are to:

  1. Improve interpretation of the Bedlam Furnaces.
  2. Completion of essential long-term repair and conservation work resulting in the removal of the monument from the English Heritage Register of Heritage at Risk.
  3. Better access to the site for those with mobility problems.
  4. Include Bedlam Furnaces in a series of high-quality interpretive trails around the World Heritage Site including a mobile app.
  5. Forge improved links with the community including schools and partner organisations.

 Building  the roof structure, carrying out the conservation work and improving the interpretation will cost £700k and we hope to be able to start work on it in May 2015.


Museum of Iron

When we launched our Coalbrookdale 300 Project in 2009, our goal was to provide a lasting legacy to the 300th anniversary of the momentous events of 1709, an historical triumph that sparked the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the modern steel industry. This exciting development programme aims to tackle new projects and to refurbish key buildings and monuments within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. The next phase of this ambitious programme is the Redevelopment of the Museum of Iron. The redeveloped museum will be the catalyst for the reinterpretation of the iconic industrial landscape that exists at Coalbrookdale. Through this project we will also seek to explain the global significance of the World Heritage Site from its origins to the present day and beyond.

Housed in the Grade II* listed Great Warehouse built in 1838, the Museum of Iron was originally used by the Coalbrookdale Company to assemble cast iron products, remaining in use until the 1970s. The iconic cast-iron clock tower was added in 1843 and provides a striking landmark to the beautiful steep sided valley.

With the current displays more than 15 years old, the Museum is in need of a major redevelopment.

The key aims of the Redevelopment will be to:

  • explain, using dynamic and innovative exhibits, the significance and context of Coalbrookdale and place it at the heart of the World Heritage Site
  • explain the history and process of iron-making, including both cast iron and wrought iron, from pre-history through the Industrial Revolution to the modern steel industry of today
  • refurbish exhibitions across three floors
  • increase access to the Museum's Nationally Designated Collections
  • create a new education/learning space
  • attract more visitors to Coalbrookdale
  • showcase recent research
  • improve the conservation standards within the Museum
  • create a new landmark destination café within the Long Warehouse bringing back derelict space into viable economic use
  • use new technologies to bring new opportunities for learning

Our overall aim is to significantly improve the education facilities for school visitors and groups and to help visitors of all ages better understand the world-changing importance of Coalbrookdale and the story of iron.

We still need to raise the remaining £200,000 in order for this exciting redevelopment  to begin. If you are interested in supporting this project then please contact the Fundraising Manager on 01952 435900 or



Enginuity is a National Centre for Design and Technology and a fantastic resource for schools in teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Its continued development completes our links with the history of the Gorge by demonstrating to our visitors of all ages how the innovation and imagination of the great entrepreneurs of the past is still alive with the technology driven advances and breakthroughs we experience today.

Part of the centre's huge popularity is the number of interactive exhibits we have for our visitors to use. This means we must replace the displays regularly to keep the Museum stimulating for our visitors, stay ahead of the competition and also to keep up to date with developments in technology and engineering.

We are continually working to upgrade and replace exhibits in order to provide the best visitor experience and keep up to date with modern technology.

New developments…

John Scott

Jackfield Tile Museum

 The John Scott Gallery at Jackfield Tile Museum is a brand new collection of world-class British decorative tiles donated from a private collector. The 1,300 individual tiles and 310 tile panels feature a roll call of prestigious design names including Pugin, Dresser, Morris, De Morgan and Bawden.

The tiles have been donated by Mr John Scott, whose extensive collection had been privately displayed at his London home before its move to the museum.

Pieces originate from the mid-19th century through to the mid-20th century and offer a fascinating insight into the design aesthetics of the past, ranging from one-off pieces from private homes to ornate panels from hospitals and other public buildings.

This stunning new gallery is a fantastic addition to the Jackfield Tile Museum and would not have been possible without the generosity of Mr Scott.

At Coalbrookdale

Since 2009, as part of the Coalbrookdale 300 Project, we have been undertaking a programme of works to develop the Coalbrookdale site and through this we have already achieved a number of ambitious projects such as:

Reinterpretation of and improved access to the Old Furnace – the scheduled monument where Abraham Darby made his great technological breakthrough of successfully smelting iron using coke.

Redevelopment of the historic gardens of the Darby Houses – this important educational project restored the gardens at the front of the properties, greatly improving interpretation for visitors to the Houses and linking with the development work recently undertaken to the Coalbrookdale Arboretum at the rear of the Houses.

Restoration and conservation work to Carpenters’ Row - the historically important listed workers’ properties to the east of the Coalbrookdale site.

The historic cast-iron clock tower on top of the Museum of Iron has been beautifully restored and is now once again telling the correct time with its cast-iron bell striking on the hour after more than 20 years silence.

Restoration of the Boy and Swan Fountain – this stunning exhibit was cast in Coalbrookdale for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Fab Lan

The Fab Lab

This exciting development, the first within a UK museum, has been added to Enginuity, the Museum’s Design and Technology Centre, allowing us to expand our education offer.

The “Fab Lab” (short for fabrication laboratory) is a fully kitted fabrication workshop which provides the opportunity to turn creative ideas and concepts in to a reality and it is the first to be installed in a UK Museum.

Fabrication laboratories were first conceived by the renowned inventor and scientist Professor Neil Gershenfeld based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His simple idea to provide the environment, skills, advanced materials and technology to make bespoke products and prototypes cheaply and quickly anywhere in the world was revolutionary.

Through the use of digital manufacturing technology Fab Labs combine 2D and 3D design with the latest fabrication technology. It utilises a range of methods ranging from CNC machining to 3D printing and can produce a single, unique product from a digital design in a matter of minutes and at a very low cost.

The Fab Lab concept has been so successful that there is now a global network comprising over 125 official Fab Labs, in 34 countries resulting in a wealthy resource of shared designs and software.

It will extend the offer of Enginuity by adding a new and exciting dynamic to the museum’s already successful design and technology education workshops.