One of Shropshire’s best-loved attractions will open its doors to visitors for the first time in over three months – with people needing to pre-book tickets to gain entry.

Blists Hill Victorian Town will welcome back visitors on weekends throughout April and May, starting with a fun-filled steam-themed weekend on April 17 & 18.

The ever-popular Furnace Kitchen, Coalbrookdale will also reopen for weekend takeaway and outdoor table service from April 17 onwards.

Bosses at The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, the Charity responsible for ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site which runs both Blists Hill Victorian Town and the Furnace Kitchen, said they couldn’t wait to bring their cultural attractions back to life - but stressed that booking was essential to gain entry, with a busy first weekend predicted.

“Our doors have been closed for over three months now, so we can’t wait to welcome back the public to breathe life back into Blists Hill,” said the Trust’s Chief Executive, Nick Ralls.

“People will be champing at the bit to get out and about after being cooped up for so long, which is why we’ve reintroduced pre-booked timed entry slots to ensure we can manage demand and provide a safe environment to visit. All tickets must be pre-purchased, as none will be on sale on the door.”

“We’ve put a number of measures into place to ensure people can visit with full confidence in addition to the timed entry slots, including enhanced social distancing measures. Visitors will be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces alongside the entrance Visitor Centre and gift shop. Many of our visitors’ favourite traditional shops will be open too, including the chemist, grocers, printers, sweet shop, bakery and Victorian market.”

The air will be filled with the smell of hot oil and steam for the opening weekend, as Blists Hill Victorian Town marks the 250th anniversary of the father of high-pressure steam, Richard Trevithick. Visitors will be able to see the town’s replica of Trevithick’s 1802 Coalbrookdale engine in operation, which is considered by many to be the world's first locomotive.

As well as the town’s Wallis & Steevens (COR) steam roller ‘Billy’, the streets will be filled with five visiting full-size portable road locomotives of various makes and types including a steam car. There will also be a number of miniatures engines of various scales.

Mr Ralls revealed they were planning to reopen the Trust’s remaining attractions, including Enginuity, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum, in May when national Covid restrictions would be further relaxed.

“Many of our museums might have been closed to visitors for more than 12 months, but we’ve not wasted the opportunity to renew our museums where possible. We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes to breathe new life into our museums, with refreshed displays at Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum and lots of exciting new additions at Enginuity.”

“In addition, we’ve started work on the new Madeley Wood Outdoor Adventure at Blists Hill, so that our visitors will be in for a treat from July when this play experience opens. Access to the Outdoor Adventure will be included in our popular Annual Pass so families can come back to enjoy our newest attraction again and again.” he added.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is one of the region’s premier tourist attractions, sited at the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution with 10 museums along the Gorge. The Trust is a registered charity whose twin aims are heritage conservation and education.

The Ironbridge Gorge was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and to date approximately 16 million tourists have visited the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Tickets are now on sale for timed entry slots via the Trust’s website at www.ironbridge.org.uk.