Blists Hill Victorian Town is an open-air museum in Ironbridge Shropshire. It is one of ten museums operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The site was originally an industrial region of mines; iron works and tile works. Many of the original buildings still stand, but at Blists Hill replicas have also been built in order to re-create a 19th century town. The museum has been used several times as a filming location, but our recent visit was a special “Timeline” event where actors were employed to pose for photographers. Many of the volunteers , who were dressed in Victorian costume , also agreed to be photographed.
“Canal Street” has a sweet shop, a Post Office, a drapers shop and a fish & chip shop. In the re-created town, there is also a Board School, a stone-built cottage, a physician’s surgery, a talllow candle factory, a sawmill, a locksmith, a blacksmith, an iron foundry,a printer’s, a grocer’s shop, a butcher’s , a chemist, a bank, a public house, a bakery and a bicycle shop. Each building houses costumed demonstrators who re-enact various tasks.
Many of the people who staff the exhibits are members of the Friends of Ironbridge Gorge Museum and the group has been significant in the development of the sites.Ironbridge is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century. There are fascinating stories of innovation and invention. Since 1986 the area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as the museums, there is of course the famous Iron Bridge itself.
The Victorian Town plays host to a number of special events throughout the year. For example, there is Printer’s Day and the Blacksmith Day. In 2023 Blists Hill celebrated the 50 years since it first opened to visitors. Since then it has become an authentic visitor attraction. For those bringing grandchildren, it is not only educational but also fun. There is an outdoor adventure play area, a ride on the horse bus or on the old fashioned fairground rides. After changing your modern money at the Bank for Pounds, Shillings and Pence you can buy repro 19th century sweets from the shop.
After walking around taking photos, we had a break and a sit down in the cafe where there was a good selection of food including delicious cakes. There are other ways to spend your money too with fresh-baked goods from the bakery to unique products such as cast iron ware from the gift shop.
As for the entrance fee, there is a choice of: one-off visit single tickets; a Pass which gives entrance to all the museums for a year and the Pass Plus, which gives additional benefits and discounts. The Adult or Senior ticket is the same price, but overall it does pay to buy a Pass if you want to return to Ironbridge within the same year.
We have visited the Victorian Town more than once before and still enjoy the experience of stepping back in time.