Conserving the Historic Estate Project

We have a large estate of internationally important heritage buildings that require regular maintenance and repair.  We needed to better understand the condition of our estate and commissioned a Quinquennial Review from Oliver Architecture in 2021.  This review allowed us to identify a programme of maintenance and repair work for our most important heritage assets.

To carry out the repair programme we bid for additional funding and in 2022, we were successful in securing £5.5 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

This funding has allowed us to start on a three year programme, Conserving the Historic Estate (CHE), to repair some 49 buildings, with work ranging from removing vegetation and external redecoration to re-roofing and stabilisation works.

We have brought together a dedicated project team to manage and deliver the CHE project.  We have also been able to recruit a project maintenance team to undertake some of the work which will build capacity and develop skills which will have a long term benefit for the Museum.

The CHE project will bring the heritage assets into a good state of repair and provide a sound base for future maintenance.   

We were also successful in securing a further £4.5 million from NHMF for an endowment to generate income for ongoing maintenance beyond the three years of CHE project.

The heritage assets

The project focuses on the heritage buildings in our care, in their original context/environment within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. 

The main concentration of buildings and structures are to be found at Coalbrookdale, Coalport, Jackfield and Blists Hill (Madeley) but there are several structures and monuments situated throughout the Gorge including five Scheduled Monuments, one Grade 1 Listed structure, 10 Grade II* Listed structures and 19 Grade II Listed structures all within an area of 5.5km2.

Of particular importance are:

  • Old Furnace at Coalbrookdale where Abraham Darby I developed the production technique for smelting iron with coke, beginning the 18th century iron revolution
  • the spectacular Hay Inclined Plane which connected the Shropshire canal to the Coalport Canal and the River Severn
  • Bedlam Furnaces, the remains of two 18th century blast furnaces built in 1757
  • Coalport China Works which is specifically included in the UNESCO citation as one of five features of particular interest

Get involved

If you are interested in learning more about our project and how we will be working to repair these important buildings please get in touch with us.

We are also very keen to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer to help us look after these fabulous buildings, send us a message.

Museum of the Gorge

Work here marks the start of our three year programme of repair and conservation, Conserving the Historic Estate.

We will repair and conserve this amazing, grade II* Listed Building and bring it back to its former glory.  Over the next few months the leaking roof will be repaired, masonry re-pointed, vegetation removed, the pitched roof to the Lady Chapel will be reinstated and the fantastic chimney pots will be replaced with replicas of the originals.

Additional funds have been raised from a wide range of donors specifically for works to the Museum of the Gorge which have allowed us to realise our vision for a full restoration of this building.

The conservation and repair work to the roof of the Museum of the Gorge has been made possible with the generous support of:

  • National Heritage Memorial Fund
  • Aslackby Trust
  • Coral Samuel Charitable Trust
  • Edith Murphy Foundation
  • Garthewynion Charities (The Margaret Owen Trust)
  • The Grimmitt Trust
  • The Headley Trust
  • The Rowlands Trust
  • Sabina Sutherland Charitable Trust
  • The Walker Trust

We have appointed Oliver Architecture and Cooper-Whyte Conservation Ltd. to carry out the works.

Find out more about the projects we're currently undertaking as part of the Conserving the Historic Estate project, a 3-year programme funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. 

This page will be updated as more projects are added.


We're starting work at the Shelton Tollhouse, one of the buildings at Blists Hill Victorian Town, from Monday 12 June. 

The work will see the restoration of all of the external soffits, roof repairs and vegetation removal alongside the fitting of cast-iron guttering around the building.

At the same time the interior will be fully redecorated. Work is scheduled to be complete by the start of the school summer holidays in mid-July. The Tollhouse will be closed during the works.

About the Shelton Tollhouse

This building was originally a toll house located in Shelton, Shrewsbury 
on the Holyhead Road (now the A5), which was the major route to Ireland from London. It was designed by Thomas Telford (1757-1834) and built in 1829. We believe it was used as a toll house until the 1880s, when it became a family home. It was the first historic building to be acquired by the Museum and was rebuilt at Blists Hill Victorian Town in 1973.