Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust awarded £500,000 grant

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has
been awarded £500,000 by Arts Council England to help it recover from the
coronavirus lockdown.

Nick Ralls, chief executive Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust
Nick Ralls, chief executive Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust

The grant – from under the Arts
Council’s Emergency Response Fund – comes after the world-famous museums were
closed for three months due to the coronavirus lockdown meaning all ticket
income to support the Charity was removed.

The Trust – a registered education and heritage conservation charity which cares for
36 listed buildings in the Gorge – said it was delighted with the award, which
comes just days after it reopened four of its ten sites

Chief executive Nick
Ralls said: “The announcement of this award could not have come at a better
time. In a week when we were finally able to reopen some of our sites to
visitors for the first time in more than 100 days.

“This award will help us continue to offer visitors an
unforgettable day out, to preserve the fantastic industrial heritage we have in
the Gorge and to carry on our educational work inspiring new generations by
bringing the stories of the Industrial Revolution to life. We are an important
part of the regional tourism economy and we want to play our part in welcoming
visitors back to the Gorge.

“We are tremendously grateful to Arts Council England not only
for this grant but for all the help and support they have provided to the Trust
over the years.

“There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt the
heaviest blow to our nation’s cultural life for very many years and it is
through the work of bodies such as the Arts Council that we can begin to emerge
and plan for the future.”

The Arts Council award
was part of a further £33million of grant funding made to 196 cultural
organisations across England.

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.

Last month the Telford
Land Deal Board and Telford & Wrekin Council, Marches Local Enterprise
Partnership agreed that £230,000 from the LEP’s Marches Investment Fund could
also be used to support the Trust.

This week the Trust reopened Blists Hill
Victorian Town, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and The Iron Bridge Tollhouse for
the first time in more than 100 days whilst the Museum of The Gorge also opened
as a free entry Visitor Centre.

Strict social distancing measures have been put in place along
with an enhanced cleaning and hygiene regime, measures to control visitor
numbers, clearly marked routes through the sites and timed entries.

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