Construction has started on an imaginative family friendly outdoor adventure experience set to open at Blists Hill Victorian Town this summer.
The exciting new Madeley Wood Company Outdoor Adventure attraction will feature elevated walkways above the woodland floor, a log-style basket swing, seesaw and lookout tower with a coal chute slide.
Designers, Creating Adventurous Places (CAP.Co), who are also creating a similar playground on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate, arrived on site this week to begin work on the latest addition to one of the region’s favourite attractions.
As life starts to slowly return to normal for millions of families thanks to the reopening of schools this week, bosses at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said they couldn’t wait to see children enjoying the new play experience.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Chief Executive, Nick Ralls, said:
“It’s incredibly exciting to see the start of construction after spending so long in the planning phase – and it seems particularly apt that it’s happening in the same week that children are allowed back into schools.”
“We can’t wait to see the plans brought to life over the next few months, ready for a fantastic summer of outdoor fun. And after the year we’ve just been through, it’s more important than ever that we can all get outdoors and let off some steam!”
Built among trees and inspired by the area’s rich mining past, Shropshire’s newest attraction will also feature wheelchair-accessible multi-level themed buildings, immersive play areas and a toddler zone with a faux mine-cart track, play buildings, a slide and miniature zip-line.
And when they’re done playing, families will be able to get refreshments from the on-site food and drink kiosk and relax under the adjacent covered seating area.
Mr Ralls revealed the Outdoor Adventure would not be the only change awaiting visitors when they were allowed to return.
“This is the first significant development at Blists Hill since 2009 – but it’s not the only project we have planned. There’s a number of exciting changes that will be taking place at our museums, so when visitors can finally return, they will be in for a real treat.”
Paul Travers, Design and Project Manager for CAP.Co, said:
“We’re thrilled to finally be putting boots on the ground to bring the Madeley Wood Company Outdoor Adventure to life.
“It’s been a challenging but rewarding 18 months working with the team at the Trust to deliver the project, and we firmly believe that the final build will prove to be a benchmark play project in the way it integrates with, and enhances, the experience and offering at Blists Hill Victorian Town for the whole family. We just can’t wait to have a play!”
The Trust – a registered heritage conservation and education charity which cares for 35 listed buildings and structures in the Gorge – has named the outdoor adventure after the Madeley Wood Company, which historically ran mine operations on the site.
Accessibility and inclusive play for all has been a key design principle. Visitors of all ages and abilities can play together on much of the built structure within the woodland and the Outdoor Adventure will be enclosed by a chestnut fence with a single entry and exit point for parents peace of mind.
The Trust will ensure the natural environment is protected as far as possible and will be enhancing the woodland and animal habitat management in the area as part of the project, including creation of new habitat spaces and adding bat and bird boxes and hibernation points.