It is part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums and we have very fond memories of our last visit to this attraction two years ago. We therefore decided to pay a return visit to this wonderful site, so that we could write an up to date review of the Blists Hill Victorian Town for our readers.
On the bank holiday Monday, we set off on the journey from our home in North Wales to Telford in Shropshire, which is a 90 minute drive. It was an easy journey that took us along some picturesque routes in parts, albeit with plenty of roundabouts, but we made good time and arrived at our destination for 11am. We followed the directions provided on the sat nav, however it was well sign posted from the main roads. Owing to it's popularity, there was a queue to enter the attraction, but visitors were attended to quickly and attentively. This ensured that no-one had to wait for too long before being able to enter and travel back in time to the Victorian era.
As we entered the street, my children immediately remembered the bank, so they insisted on a quick visit to exchange some of their coins. You can step inside the bank and swap modern day currency for older coins and then use these to purchase items in the shops. If you have any left over at the end of the day, you simply swap them back over before you leave. We think that this is such a fun idea and it really gets visitors thinking about the difference in value from years gone by. It is also interesting being able to compare the old style bank with today's modern facilities.
Located nearby was the chemist, which also features a small dental surgery inside. If you have a fear of the dentist, then Victorian dentistry would definitely not be for you, as there were a vast range of weird and scary looking instruments in use. The chemist displayed a vast collection of potions and lotions with bottles of all shapes and sizes. There were also some soaps and toiletries that were available for purchase which smelt really nice.
As we made our way along the street we searched inside the open shops and buildings. We found the post office interesting and there was a man sat outside making rugs and talking to visitors as they walked past. A beautiful horse was being led through the streets and Riley was looking forward to seeing more of the horses and other animals later in the day.
My children were very excited to visit the sweet shop again, which was definitely one of their highlights from our previous trip. There was a great range of sweets to choose from and you could choose to pay in new or old money, with the price list displaying both options.
Opposite the sweet shop is a wonderful photography suite which was my personal favourite from our last trip. Unfortunately we were on quite a tight schedule on this day, so decided to give this a miss on this occasion, but if you are a first time visitor, then it is definitely something not to be missed and provides you with a wonderful keepsake from your trip to Blists Hill.
For a very reasonable charge, you can dress up in Victorian clothing and have a picture portrait taken of you in traditional style. There is a large dressing room where you can select the clothes that you would like to wear, along with guidance and suggestions from a member of staff. Once everyone is dressed up, then you are taken through to a studio to have your picture taken against a traditional Victorian backdrop. Here is an image of my son Ben getting ready for his photo from our visit two years ago.
We continued our exploration around the site, before Ben requested a trip to the Doctor's house. As we entered, we were greeted by a lovely lady who welcomed us into the home and also then proceeded to talk to my children about activities that they may have done in Victorian times. Riley was very interested to learn more about flower pressing and he was shown how to do it, so that he could try it himself in the future.
We had a look in the waiting room and wondered how doctors managed appointments back then, prior to computers and modern technology.
Just past the surgery were some lovely farm animals, including pigs and chickens. Riley absolutely loves pigs, so he stood watching and talking to them for a while, before we proceeded to walk down the hill and past the G R Morton Ironworks.
Located at the bottom of this hill is a traditional funfair that both children and adults can enjoy, with a selection of fairground rides and stalls. There is an additional charge for these, but it is not overpriced and a go on the carousel costs only £1.50. In addition to the carousel there was also a swing roundabout, traditional swing boats and a coconut shy, making it a great place to stop and enjoy some Victorian fun. There are also some picnic benches and seating nearby, so it is also the ideal picnic area, with plenty to see and do.
Opposite the fairground is the old school house, where the very strict Mr Stern teaches his lessons. Visitors can attend the school at a time specified on the day and form an orderly queue outside before entering the classroom. When we arrived the queue was already very long, so we decided to walk round to the viewing windows instead, where you can see and hear everything that is going on inside. My children watched in amazement as visitors came in and took their seats, whilst Mr Stern shouted at them to be quiet and to hurry up so lesson could begin. The class then began by singing the hymn 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' under his watchful eye.
Ben said that Mr Stern was quite scary and was glad that he wasn't his real teacher, but he also found it really interesting how everyone immediately listened and behaved. We continued to watch the lesson for some time, before Riley asked if we could go and see the big boat, which he had remembered from our previous visit. We therefore made our way across to the big building, just a bit further down the path.
This purpose built building, houses what is believed to be the last known surviving Lower Severn Trow, which would have previously transported cargo along the River Severn. There is plenty of information and facts to read about the boat, along with a video that can be watched prior to climbing the stairs to the walkway. This allows visitors to get a marvellous view of the boat from all angles including a birds eye view from above. Both of my boys really love exploring boats, so they found this part of the attraction really interesting.
By this point we had started to get a little hungry, so we walked back up the hill to the towns main street to enjoy some fish and chips. I will be honest when I say that these are the nicest fish and chips that I have ever tasted and were absolutely delicious, cooked using the traditional method of beef dripping. We couldn't find any picnic benches available in the beer garden located next door, so we took our food over to some well placed rocks by the river and sat there whilst we enjoyed our food.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museums recommend that you allow at least three hours for your visit and I would definitely agree, although you could spend much longer there if you decided to take part in all of the activities and demonstrations which are available. The fairground is seasonal so only operates in the summer months, but there is also plenty of other things to see and do for the remainder of the year.
During our visit there was the opportunity to take part in some traditional maypole dancing, try out some candle dipping, ride in a horse and cart, experience the fun of the fair, enjoy a lesson with Mr Stern and also witness a good old sing song in the local pub.
The shops are full of interesting items as well as staff on hand to tell you more about how life would have been in the Victorian period. In the pharmacy you can learn all about the lotions and potions that were used, whilst in the bakery you can view them preparing bread for sale (which you can also buy once it is ready).
Overall we had a fantastic time and it is somewhere that I am sure we will return to again in the future. It is an attraction that is suitable for all ages and I love that fact that both times we have visited it has been a different experience and we have learnt something new. Days out as a family are often fun, but Blists Hill also has that educational element that all my children find really interesting.
There is no shortage of things to see and do and I particularly like how friendly and helpful the staff are around the town. Blists Hill Victorian Town has a wonderful atmosphere and a real feeling of authenticity. I would therefore happily recommend this attraction to families looking for a fun and informative day out together.
You can find out more about Blists Hill Victorian Town by visiting their website or social media pages, which can be found on the following channels:
Address: Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Madeley, Telford, TF7 5UD.
Entry prices are as follows:
Adult Entry - £18.50
60+ - £13.50
Child with Gift Aid - £11.50
You can also purchase Annual Passport Tickets which includes admission to all 10 Ironbridge Gorge museums for 12 months. Further details on these can be found here.
Opening Times: The attraction is open 7 days a week from 10am til 4:30pm from 25th March to 29th September 2019.
*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary entry to the attraction for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Prices/dates/opening times correct at time of writing but are of course subject to change.