Hands-on activities bring the inventions of our past heroes to life at Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge
Visit Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge in Shropshire over the spring half-term between 27th May and 4th June and take part in a range of fun hands-on activities to discover more about Victorian engineering heroes and inspirational inventors, all of whom would have been regarded as superheroes of their day.
Transform your smartphone into a ‘Box Brownie’ camera with a special cover at the Photographers and hear about Julia Cameron, one of the greatest Victorian photographers who was known for her portraits of celebrities. Then learn about Morse Code in the Town’s Post Office; Samuel Morse revolutionised long distance communication and allowed people to send messages across the world.
Go along to Speakers Corner at 2pm where all ages can follow in the footsteps of the famous Victorian social campaigner Millicent Fawcett, who fought for women to have the right to vote. Props and scripts will be available to help you get into character.
Have a go at packing tea in the Grocers and learn about Ferdinand de Lesseps. The French diplomat and engineer was the driving force behind the building of the Suez Canal, which halved journey times from India and made tea more affordable for working people. And finally try the Izod tester in the Ironworks between 2pm and 4pm; named after its inventor, Edwin Gilbert Izod, the tester determines the impact strength of metals.
On Bank Holiday Monday, 29th May only, Blists Hill’s own ‘engineers’ will demonstrate how a large, steel oil drum can be crushed using less than a cup of water. This simple but very effective ‘trick’ was developed by Thomas Newcomen when he invented the world’s first steam engine.
There will also be a self-led trail around Blists Hill to discover more about the heroes who lived during the Victorian era as well as lessons in the Victorian School House, lunchtime and afternoon sing-a-longs in the New Inn and rides in the horse-drawn bus between 1.30 and 3pm.
Decorate a frisbee flinger with your own superhero logo
At Enginuity during half-term 27th May – 4th June
Go along to Enginuity, near Ironbridge during the spring half-term, between 27th May and 4th June, and join a hands-on workshop to discover more about heroes from the world of science, engineering, technology and sport.
Having been inspired, choose your favourite hero, or create your own; then use your imagination to create a logo, maybe featuring their invention. Cut out your design and use a heat press to transfer the image onto a fabric frisbee, or ‘Flinger’. The flexible frisbees can be twisted for storing in pockets or bags, ready to spring open again when you want to fly - or fling - them.
Do you have superhero style reflexes? Find out how fast you can react and measure your hand to eye co-ordination by challenging the Batak Wall. Try and hit as many of the illuminated targets as you can within 30 seconds. It’s a great fun way to test your skills and improve your powers. There’s also a chance to test how fast you can kick a football; the Enginuity team will measure its speed to find out who has superhero football skills.
The drop-in workshops will take place daily, between 10.30am and 3.15pm; there is a small additional charge of £1.50 for materials plus admission.
Superhero themed tile and ceramic clay workshops
Between 27th May and 3rd June, (excluding Sunday 28th May) join drop-in superheroes themed tile decorating workshops at Jackfield Tile Museum and use your imagination to decorate tiles using the traditional tube lining technique with your own design and choice of colours. Tiles cost from £5 each (plus admission). It takes up to 1½ hours to decorate a tile so last admission is at 3pm.
Across the river at Coalport China Museum you can take part in hands-on superhero ceramic workshops from 27th May to 4th June. On certain days you can try sculpting your own character from air-drying clay; throughout the half-term school holiday you can also paint ceramic items such as a money box, fridge magnet or delicate china flower as well as paper plates. Sessions take place between 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm and activities vary from day to day, all ceramic items carry a charge in addition to the museum entrance fee. Afterwards follow a fun trail around the museum.
Information for visitors
Most museums are open from 10am until 4pm (Blists Hill until 4.30pm) during the spring half-term school holidays. See website for details. A great value Annual Passport Ticket allowing unlimited entry into all ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums costs £25 per adult, £20 for seniors, £15 for children under 16, £68 for a family of two adults and all their children and £50 for a family with one adult; under 5s free (terms and conditions apply); Passports can also be bought online in advance saving 10% and individual entry tickets are available at each museum. Activities will vary from day-to-day and some additional costs will apply.
For further information, call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk. The Gorge is easily reached via the M54 motorway exiting at Telford junction 4 or 6.
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