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Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Shropshire - Open during festive break for a great family day out (29th November 2011)

For a fun day out during the festive period (26 December – 3 January) go along to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire’s stunning Severn Valley where six of the ten museums will be open daily from 10am until 4pm. They will only be closing on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Whether you are interested in a recreated Victorian town, hands-on interactives, fine china, decorative tiles or the history of iron making, it’s all to be found in this fascinating World Heritage Site.

Step back in time at Blists Hill Victorian Town where you will be greeted with a stunning display of sight and sound in the new visitor centre as massive images are projected on nine metre high walls telling the harsh reality of life during the evolution of mining and hot metal industries.

Exchange your money in the town’s bank for pre-decimal token coins and spend them in the sweet shop, fried fish dealers or New Inn Public House.  Then meander around the period shops and cosy, cottages where you will receive a warm welcome from the resident Victorians and be invited into their homes for a chat around the fireside as they go about their daily life.

Over at Coalport China Museum you can marvel at the magnificent china displayed in the very buildings in which it was produced and see skilled crafts people at work; there’s even a special gallery for children where they can discover the secrets of how china was made. Then walk through galleries and period room settings adorned with magnificent tiles at Jackfield Tile Museum. Displays include tiles from a London hospital children’s ward intricately painted with scenes from nursery rhymes.

Youngsters can let their imagination go wild at the Enginuity design and technology centre, as they become a design engineer for the day, able to play with huge interactive exhibits, X-ray everyday objects to see how they are made, control a ‘river’ to generate electricity and compete against a robot. Modern equipment is combined with historic machinery to explain everyday principles - by turning a small flywheel you can pull a real locomotive. 

The two other Ironbridge Gorge Museum sites open over the festive break are  Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and Museum of The Gorge. You can also visit the original Iron Bridge itself; cast in 1779 its great arch spans the stunning River Severn – as you walk across the bridge try and imagine what the area was like around 300 years ago at the beginning of industrial development.

An Annual Passport Ticket to all ten museums valid for twelve months and multiple return visits costs £22.50 for adults, £18.25 for the 60 plus and £14.75 for students and children £61.50 for a family of two adults and three children aged up to 18 years in full time education; under 5s free. For those on a shorter time scale, individual admission is available into any of the sites.

For further information, contact the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk. Some sites close or reduce their hours during the winter months and all close 24 and 25 December and 1 January, call to check before you travel. The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).