The Ironbridge Gorge Museums are taking part in this year’s National Heritage Open Days initiative welcoming the public for free to areas that usually have restricted access to visitors including the Library and Archives at Coalbrookdale.
On Saturday, 9th September, there will be short guided tours of the library reading room and a chance to see original material related to decorative tiles at 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. No booking is necessary but places will be offered on a first come first served basis, with a maximum of 10 people for each tour. These library is normally open to researchers by prior appointment and the archives store is normally closed to the public.
A display in the Archives GF Williams room will feature images and material relating to the Museum’s significant decorative tile collections. Open from 10am to 4pm, there is no need to book, just drop-in. There will also be a fascinating talk about the tiles by expert Tony Herbert between 12noon and 1pm.
The Library and Archives are located on the top floor of the Long Warehouse adjacent to the Museum of Iron in Coalbrookdale. As the building does not currently have a lift, these tours are not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Drivers should follow the brown signs to Coalbrookdale Museums or Enginuity; there is ample onsite parking (small fee).
Only open for afternoon guided tours during the summer season, Broseley Pipeworks, an original 19th century clay tobacco pipe factory, will welcome visitors for free on Sunday, 10th September from 10am to 4pm. During the day visitors will see pipe making demonstrations and can even have a go at making a pipe. Abandoned in 1960, and restored by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in the early 1990s, the artefacts are displayed exactly as the workforce would have left them at the end a day’s shift nearly 60 years ago, expecting to return the next morning. It presents an opportunity to get a closer view of how buildings like this are rescued and see original documents from the archaeology survey.