Ironbridge first museum to reopen

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The open air Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire is the first museum to announce its partial reopening following the relaxation of lockdown rules announced by Boris Johnson earlier today.

Visits will have to be booked in advance, even for season ticket holders, and the box office has already opened in anticipation of being able to open on July 4 for first time since lockdown in March.

The Ironbridge Gorge Trust cares for 36 listed buildings and is preparing to reopen Blists Hill Victorian Town, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and Toll House on July 4. The Museum of The Gorge, which suffered damage during the floods of February, will open as a free entry Visitor Centre. A video here shows how the museum will go about reopening:

Chief Executive Nick Ralls said the trust was delighted to be able to welcome visitors again, but they will notice changes. “A huge amount of work has gone into making our museums safe in the wake of the pandemic, and we have followed all government guidelines to ensure the wellbeing of everybody who visits” he said. “We are focussing our initial reopening on those sites where we can fully maintain social distancing and visitor safety and still offer a terrific experience for everybody who comes. 

“To help us ensure safety tickets will have to be pre-booked, visitor numbers will be restricted to hourly windows to make sure we can limit the numbers at Blists Hill during the day, and we are extending our opening hours to help as many people to come as possible.”

Strict social distancing measures will be in place at all the sites along with an enhanced cleaning and hygiene regime, clearly marked and timed entries and special car parking arrangements.

Blists Hill will be open from 10am -7pm Wednesday to Sunday, with the Museum of Iron, Museum of The Gorge and Iron Bridge Tollhouse open from 10am-5pm. The Furnace Kitchen in Coalbrookdale has already re-opened for takeaway food and drinks.

The museums – all in the West Midlands’ only World Heritage Site  – have been closed since the lockdown was announced in March, having earlier been hit by the floods along the Ironbridge Gorge in February.

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