Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is an independent education and heritage conservation charity operating 10 museums and caring for 36 historic monuments within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. These include former factories, foundries and warehouses, two chapels and Quaker Burial Grounds, historic woodlands and a re-created Victorian Town. At the heart of the Museum is the Old Furnace where Abraham Darby first smelted iron using coke, the innovation that kick-started the Industrial Revolution.
The Trust runs award winning educational programs for over 68,000 students every year as well as family learning activities during school holidays. It has also hosted inspirational free community festivals, encouraging local families to visit the museums. Since its refurbishment more than 2,000 students per year have stayed at YHA Coalbrookdale.
The Trust has saved many historic buildings and given them viable futures, each year it welcomes 500,000 visitors keen to find out how Ironbridge changed the world forever and became known as the Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
The Jackfield Tile Museum is one of the museums helped by National Lottery funding. Visitors enjoy exploring this original factory buildings and discovering more about Victorian tile manufacturing, with thousands of tiles on display in galleries and re-created room settings.
Maureen McGregor, Life Long Learning Manager, says support from National Lottery players has been crucial: "Having amazing facilities really helps teachers bring the National Curriculum to life for their pupils. Funding has helped us realise our philosophy of 'to experience is to understand.'"
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