Blists Hill Victorian Town features high on our list of things to do in Shropshire because it’s so good. If you’re looking for a unique experience in Shropshire, look no further than Blists Hill! Nestled at the top of Ironbridge Gorge in the heart of Shropshire, this outdoor museum brings the Victorian era to life, offering a glimpse into the everyday life of 19th-century industrial Britain.
The town submerges you into the past with the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Victorian-era Britain. The town has been meticulously restored with an impressive level of authenticity and attention to detail, which brings the past to life. I (Joel) have been here countless times as a photography student, teacher, and tourist, and there’s always something new to see and learn. In fact, it’s one of my favourite places in the UK.
Blists Hill Victorian Town
Visiting Blists Hill is one of the best things to do in Shropshire because it’s more than a museum. It’s a sensory experience. You can immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and tastes of Britain’s Victorian era. You’ll recognise the distinguishable smell of burning coal and the delicious aroma from the traditional fish and chip shop and the sound of the hammer striking metal on the anvil in the blacksmith shop.
With so much to see and do, Blists Hill is a must-visit destination whether you’re a history buff interested in the Victorian era and the history of the Industrial Revolution, a family looking for a fun day out, or tourists like us seeking something a little different. You’ll be shocked at how great it is, just like the building below is! Ha!
The museum is a staple part of Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms part of a wider network of museums, all of which explore the different industries that thrived in the Gorge. If you haven’t been to Ironbridge, it’s one of the best Shropshire towns to visit. You’ll also find plenty of things to do in Ironbridge.
1 | The History
The history of Blists Hill is rooted in the industrial revolution of the 19th century. The area surrounding Blists Hill, known as Ironbridge Gorge, was once a hub of iron production and heavy industry, with coal mines, iron works, and brick kilns dotted throughout the landscape. It’s so deeply rooted, Shropshire is widely considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. And not too far away, you’ll find the world’s first iron bridge down in the Gorge.
The growth of the industry in the area brought about the development of the area, which was initially established to house the workers and their families. The area evolved as the iron and coal industries boomed, growing to accommodate the increasing population. Over time, as the industry started to decline, the area fell into decline. By the mid-20th century, many buildings were in disrepair and at risk of being lost forever.
In the late 20th century, efforts were made to preserve and restore the area to its former glory.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust bought the land, and a comprehensive restoration project was undertaken. The trust worked to restore the buildings and bring them back to their original Victorian appearance, using traditional techniques and materials and voila, Blists Hill was established. It’s a reconstruction of a typical working-class town from that area of Shropshire with many replica buildings, like the bank or other buildings, which were relocated to the town brick by brick. An astonishing feat alone!
Today, Blists Hill is a living museum where you can step back in time and experience life in a Victorian town. The town has been preserved and restored so well that it is now widely recognised as one of the UK’s most authentic and well-preserved Victorian towns, which is one of the reasons it’s featured on so many TV shows.
2 | Blists Hill’s Importance
The town is more than just a historical attraction; it is a living testament to the heritage and cultural heritage of the Victorian era. The town provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of this critical period in British history and culture at a time that helped shape the world we live in today.
Moreover, Blists Hill also serves as a vital educational resource for students and researchers. The town offers a wealth of information about the Victorian era, and its exhibits and demonstrations provide an engaging and interactive way to learn about the history and culture of this time.
3 | Attractions & Activities
There’s so much stuff to see and do! You’ll find a collection of authentic and original Victorian buildings and shops that have been lovingly restored to their original appearance or replicas from neighbouring towns, like the bank. It’s a replica from Broseley, on the other side of the Gorge. While you’re in the bank, you can even swap your real money for some Victorian coins to spend around the town.
You can wander around at your own pace to explore the town’s grocer, baker, ironmonger, sweet shop, fish shop and pub, all staffed by friendly and knowledgeable interpreters dressed in awesome period costumes.
You’ll find loads of other places to explore, too, like the photographer, blacksmith, school, plasterers – the list goes on and on! In fact, there are over 50 attractions to see, including plenty of places where you can enter to see how life was back in the day, like the squatter’s cottage or doctor’s. You’ll also find all sorts of artefacts in relevant places, like tools, machinery, clothing, food, and medicine. And if you visit the pub at the right time, you might catch a sing-along! Look out for signs outside some of the buildings – they’ll tell you when something special is going on, like singing, pouring iron, dressing the horse, etc.
The best bits of the museum we recommend you see and do are eating some fish and chips, watching the blacksmith at work, visiting the squatter’s cottage and watching the iron-making demonstration, where you can see the process of making iron in a Victorian blast furnace and watching them pour the molten liquid metal!
Speaking to the staff and getting eyes on some of the demonstrations really helps bring your experience to life, so don’t be afraid to get involved and chat! There’s also a Victorian bakery where you can buy some freshly baked traditional treats and learn about the baking methods of the era. Yum!
4 | Cafe & Gift Shop
Aside from the old stuff, there are a few modern bits, which consist of two cafes and a gift shop. There’s a cafe at the top of the town and one at the bottom called Forest Glen, where you can get a selection of hot and cold food, hot and cold drinks, cakes and snacks. And the gift shop has all sorts of stuff from old games to homewares and sweets. You can even take a piece of your visit home with you as a piece of iron cast from the very foundry you witnessed them pouring the liquid metal! We bought ourselves a cast-iron trivet stand. That’s a pot stand in plain English!
5 | It’s a Photographer’s Dream
The museum is a photographer’s dream! As you know, it’s a sensory experience once you step inside the museum, and you can get your senses going with some photography because it’s a visual dream. The staff are approachable and friendly and often don’t mind their picture being taken.
The place is also well designed, with each set dressed with aesthetics to please the eye. There’s also plenty of activity to capture the decisive moment, like when they open the furnace in the foundry. We have a great photography section to get you started if you want to improve your photography.
Planning Your Visit
Opening times vary throughout the year. In winter, it’s open Wednesday to Sunday 10 am – 4 pm and come spring, it’s open Monday to Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.
Visit the Ironbridge Valley of Invention website for the latest opening times.
You might think it’s a little expensive to get in, but when you consider what you get, it’s worth every penny. For the best value for money, it’s worth getting the pass which gives you access to all the museums in the group. You also get access for an entire year, which makes it an even better value. Below are the basic prices of the museum tickets.
£23.50 per adult or senior
£14 per child (5+) or student
£33 per adult or senior
£20 per child (5+) or student
See the Ironbridge.org website for the latest ticket prices.
Address, Postcode, Location & Parking
Address: Legges Way, Madeley, Ironbridge Gorge, Telford, TF7 5UD
Postcode: TF7 5UD
Parking: there is ample parking at Blists Hill Victorian Town, although you’ll also have to pay for parking, which you pay for at the end of your visit. You can pay by card at machines in the car park or online within 48 hours of your visit.
Tel: 01952 433424
Email: [email protected]
Is it worth visiting Blists Hill?
100% yes! Blists Hill is definitely worth visiting! It’s a fascinating living history museum that offers a unique and immersive experience of life in a typical industrial town during the late 19th century.
You can explore the town’s streets and buildings, visit various shops and workshops, and watch traditional crafts and trade demonstrations. There are also rides on a horse-drawn cart and interactive exhibits and activities designed to engage you.
If you’re planning a trip to the Ironbridge Gorge area or the wider Shropshire region, include Blists Hill. Whether you’re interested in history or architecture or simply want to experience something different, Blists Hill Victorian Town will satisfy you. The town is beautifully preserved, and the staff are knowledgeable and friendly, making it a great place to learn about the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution and enjoy a day out at the same time.
What’s been filmed at Blists Hill?
Loads of stuff have been filmed at Blists Hill over the years, including Alan Sugar’s BBC show, The Apprentice. Aside from The Apprentice, a few other shows have been filmed at Blists Hill, including Doctor Who, Antiques Roadshow, Time Team, The Sweet Makers, History of the World, Shopping with Keith Lemon, Treasure Hunt, Feast of July, Pigeon Summer and Britain’s Greatest Machines with Chris Barrie.
What is Blists Hill Victorian Town?
Blists Hill Victorian Town is a living history museum in Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, England. It’s dedicated to preserving and interpreting the Victorian era for future generations and is a must-visit attraction if you’re visiting Shropshire or Ironbridge and the Gorge.
How big is Blists Hill?
Blists Hill Victorian Town covers an area of over 40 acres and is made up of over 50 buildings. The site isn’t huge, but it’s big enough with enough attractions to keep you occupied for a few hours.
What can I expect to see when I visit Blists Hill?
When you visit Blists Hill Victorian Town, you can expect to be immersed in the sights, sounds and tastes of Victorian-era Britain. You’ll see an authentic Victorian town with genuine historic buildings, costumed staff, and working and interactive exhibits.
Is Blists Hill appropriate for children?
Totally, yes! The town is a family-friendly museum that offers something for kids and adults alike. The kids will enjoy interacting with the costumed staff (who are very knowledgeable, friendly and approachable), exploring historic buildings, and getting a ride on the shire horse cart, no doubt!
Which is better, Blists Hill or the Black Country Living Museum?
We think Blists Hill is better than the BCLM. It’s a smaller site which feels a bit more intimate and more like a Victorian town might have been. The BCLM was one of the filming locations for the hit TV series Peaky Blinders. So if that’s your thing, you might want to head to see where it was filmed. There are other things on offer at the BCLM, like canals and narrowboats. But Blists Hill Victorian Town is surrounded by all the other amazing things to do in Ironbridge Gorge, so you can tie some other stuff in with your visit.
How long do I need at Blists Hill?
Although Blists Hill Victorian Town isn’t a huge site (just over 50 acres), it will take a surprisingly long time to get around it. Plan for 3 hours because before you know it, you’ll quickly get lost in all the museum offers. You might also want to stop for a bit of lunch in one of the cafes or try the traditional fish and chips. Don’t rush your visit – speak to the staff and soak up the atmosphere to get the most out of the museum.
Blists Hill Victorian Town
- The History
- The Town’s Importance
- Attractions & Activities
- Cafe & Gift Shop
- It’s a Photographer’s Dream
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