Iron Bridge

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums Timeline

For 50 years the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has cared for some of the world’s most important industrial heritage. Here is a quick overview of some of our achievements.

A group of local people formed the Coalbrookdale Archives Association – rescuing books, archives and objects that would otherwise have been destroyed

The Old Furnace at Coalbrookdale was excavated and an opening ceremony took place

Dawley New Town was founded (which later became Telford). This was one of the first to deliberately choose a derelict area for regeneration as part of the wider new town development initiative

Dawley Development Corporation met to consider setting up a museum trust. It had identified the major sites that should be restored and occupied as Coalbrookdale, Coalport, Blists Hill, Bedlam Furnaces and the Iron Bridge, as well as several other lesser sites

Setting up The first museums

1st November 1969:
The first part-time employee was appointed to save Blists Hill and manage volunteer working parties to rescue equipment from other sites

Summer 1970:
The lease for the Coalbrookdale Works Museum and Furnace was handed to the Museum Trust, ensuring all the major sites in the Gorge were under the museum’s care

August 1971:
Blists Hill had been envisaged as an open air park containing industrial remains. A Development Trust was set up in August 1971 to raise money for capital development

1972 -1979:
This was an intense time of change in the Gorge and sees the emergence of the site as we know it today. As well as developing the sites that make up the Trust other infrastructure was put in place to enhance the site as a whole including footpaths and fencing and the canal was excavated

1973: Blists Hill opening

Blists Hill Victorian Town officially opened to the public.

Bridge restoration and further attractions

1972 - 1974:
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire County Council and the Department of the Environment (DOE) worked on the restoration of the Iron Bridge

Coalport China Museum opened and the display of china in the kiln was instrumental in it winning the Museum of the Year Award and the European Museum of the Year in 1978

Sir Arthur Elton collections of prints, drawings and engraving were donated to the Trust, representing the best visual source of material for the industrial and technological developments in the country from the 17th to the early 20th centuries

Bi-centenary celebrations

Bi-centenary of the Iron Bridge supported by a range of key events and more development on site and in July HRH Prince Charles opened the Museum of Iron

Institute of Industrial Archaeology set up jointly by the Museum and University of Birmingham to strengthen the research and academic side of its work

Consolidation and restoration of the Trust’s ever growing portfolio of heritage assets

A new millennium

Our continuing programme of investment is helping us to inspire a whole new generation of young people with the story of the Industrial Revolution.

Restoration of Coalbrookdale Company’s former Head Quarters and the opening of Enginuity and the Museum’s offices

Restoration and redisplay of Jackfield Tile Museum

The launch of the Cultural Olympiad in the West Midlands is held at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

Opening of the new Visitor Centre and Canal Steet at Blists Hill Victorian Town

The Olympic Torch crosses the Iron Bridge

Opening of CORE a magnificent digital art installation by Kurt Hentschlager

Redevelopment of the Museum of The Gorge, following a crowdfunding campaign with the Art Fund

Opening of the John Scott Gallery at Jackfield Tile Museum

Opening of the Sidaway Building, a new home for Spry and new cover building for the Ice Breaker, Tub Boat and Trevithick

Restoration of the Coalport Bottle Kilns

50th Anniversary of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Re-opening of the new Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron