Boy and Swan fountain in front of the Old Furnace, Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site

Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust launches 10-year investment plan

Nicola Sullivan, 28.03.2017
Revamped Museum of Iron will reopen in April
The Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust has unveiled a 10-year development plan to raise £15m, which it will use to transform the ten museums and 36 scheduled monuments it oversees.

The first phase of the plan, launched this week at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the trust at London’s Ironmonger Hall, will see the reopening of the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, located in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

The museum, which has undergone a six-month redevelopment and will be open to the public on 8 April, will explore how Coalbrookdale’s unique geology, and how the people that lived there played a key role in the history of the iron industry. The process of smelting iron with coke rather than charcoal on an industrial scale was perfected in the village’s Old Furnace in 1709.

“Buildings, wars, transport and trade are all shaped by the innovations of 1709 and the world that iron built," said Gillian Crumpton, a curator at the Museum of Iron. 

This new museum tells that story, setting the amazing industrial innovations that began here, in their historical context.”

Work to create a cafe at the site will begin this autumn. The development plan also includes: the expansion and redesign of Enginuity (part of the National Design and Technology Centre); the conservation and interpretation of the Old Furnace; the development of a new two-storey gallery space for temporary exhibitions; the creation of a fully accessible collections store; the development of academic research facilities; and the relocation and improved accessibility of the library and archive.

Anna Brennand, the chief executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, said: “The trust has made significant progress over the last 50 years. As with any organisation it is important that we continue to develop and meet our audience’s needs to secure the long-term future of the heritage assets in our care.”