Appeals and Projects
Projects in the Pipeline...
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 £3.2m 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.
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.
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.
The Fab Lab
This exciting development 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 science and technology education workshops.
At Blists Hill Victorian Town we have started development work on the Spry, the last surviving Lower Severn Trow boat, through the construction of a new cover building and a new interpretation scheme. We will also be creating a new building to house the Trevithick Steam engine which will 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 vital 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.
At Jackfield Tile Museum we have very recently opened a beautiful new gallery which displays the recently acquired John Scott Collection. This collection was generously donated by a private collector and is a pre-eminent collection of over 1,300 tiles from some of the greatest designers of the 19th and 20th centuries.