The Reopening Of Blists Hill Victorian Town, Telford and Covid Safety Measures.
I’m going to be honest, I was very sceptical back in June when lockdown measures were beginning to be lifted. I’d become comfortable in my little safe bubble at home. With essential trips to the shops for groceries, opening our Dry Cleaning business and family walks being our only outing. I really hadn’t considered how the wider world would function when it finally opened up again.
At the beginning of July, it was announced that some leisure and tourist attractions could reopen. But only if it was safe to do so. This led to various precautions attractions had to have in place to keep visitors safe during their visits. These included limiting visitor numbers, hand cleaning/sanitising stations, wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and timed entry slots to prevent too many guests arriving at the same time.
This announcement led to the arrangements for a cluster of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s reopening. Spread across the local area to Ironbridge in Telford, Shropshire. Attractions include Blists Hill Victorian Town, Museum Of The Gorge, Museum Of Iron and Ironbridge Tollhouse.
Shortly after reopening, we were invited to attend Blists Hill Victorian Town. To witness first-hand everything that has been put in place for welcoming guests back whilst keeping their staff and volunteers safe. Here’s how our day panned out.
Our Covid Safe Visit To Blists Hill Victorian Town
Upon our arrival after parking the car we noticed that all parking charges for the site had been relaxed for the time being. So we didn’t need to touch a parking meter. We were then instructed to queue before gaining entry to the attraction. The queues formed out of the front door of the entry area as per usual but with 2 meter measured lines in place to help guests. Before entering to the tills there are a couple of hand sanitiser stations to be used.
After finishing at the till area we are informed to continue through the main building, follow the arrows to head straight outside. Usually around this point, we are shows a couple of short videos. But these have all been suspended to prevent crowding in the indoor, enclosed areas. We continued outdoors.
From here it’s pretty much like any normal Blists Hill day. With a couple of obvious differences in place for safety but all linked to our “new normal”. Lets discuss those further.
Keep Your Distance
Due to the vast size of Blists Hill Victorian Town you are able to social distance wonderfully. But just to remind you, you will see these posters frequently on your travels.
One Way Systems
I certain sections of the attraction where space can be minimal (i.e. in buildings, narrow walk ways etc) there is a strict one way system in place. You will see signs guiding your way.
Also with some buildings, you will come across posters instructing you of reduced entry. Numbers entering a majority of buildings at the moment are restricted. This helps members of the group before you can have a good look in a property before the next group enter. There are usually members of staff around the area keeping an eye on numbers to ensure everyone is safe. Entry is restricted to 2 people or 1 family group at a time in a majority of enclosed buildings.
Hand Cleaning / Sanitising Stations
In a number of locations you will find sanitising stations with pump-action dispensers. These are frequently maintained and topped up when required. We came across a hand-washing station near the candle makers and there is full hand-washing facilities in all the public toilets too.
All restrooms are open, in the car park, by The New Inn pub and down by the fairground and cafe. All cubicles in the ladies are open, no cubicles are taped off. So I recommended if your are paying a visit just be mindful of your own distance from other guests. I can only presume this is the same for the men’s facilities.
Cafe & Food Outlets
The cafe in the lower part of the attraction by the fairground is open. Inside seating is not available but there are seats outside the cafe which you can sit and relax at.
The bakery and butchers are closed for the time being. I presume this is due to the building having a very limited space for guests.
The Fish and Chip shop and sweets shop both remain open for business. With a fab 1 way system in place, the building doesn’t get crowded. It was amazing to be reunited with Telford’s best fish and chips ever!
Last but not least. The New Inn pub is open for business but only operating on a takeaway basis only.
We were very pleased to discover that the fairground was fully operational for business. Entry numbers are restricted so that a good level of hygiene for all guests can be maintained. Nearby are public toilets for washing your hands after touching the equipment.
As mentioned briefly during this blog post there are a couple of exhibits closed. This is mainly due to areas where social distancing can be exceptionally tricky. For example, the photographers, bakery, butchers, coal mine train and incline lift are a few that we found closed during our visit.
Another exhibit that is worth mentioning that is effectively closed is the bank. Although you can still visit the bank, talk to the safe and has an effective one-way system in place you are unable to withdraw victorian money to spend around the attraction. You can make purchases around the attraction using cash in some places but card payment is currently much preferred.
The Goods Shed
A couple of the town’s attractions although open to look in you are unable to make purchases within them. For example the grocery store, chemist, iron merchants, decorative plasterers and such like. For buying gifts you can now make your purchases in The Goods Shed. This has been converted into a Victorian Market. You can pick up the goods you wish to purchase and then head to the till to complete your purchases.
There are also a couple of members of staff within The Goods Shed too who are all very knowledgeable in all the items which are available to purchase. We were given some excellent knowledge on the uses for carbolic soap.
How Do We Book Our Tickets?
I now hear you shouting, how do we book our entry? Well…
All visits are recommended to be booked in advance.
You can book your entry slot online and then purchase an annual pass at the same time. This way you can pay upfront for all your visits over the coming 12 months. Annual Passes are currently available at a great discounted price too.
If you just wish to pay for a single entry ticket, perhaps you are travelling in from out of the area. Book your timed entry slot online which is free then pay for your single entry at the entry desk.
Blists Hill Victorian Town is currently only open weekly on a Wednesday to Sunday. Opening at 10am closing at 7pm with last entry at 4pm. This may change during the upcoming summer holidays.
Book your entry here.
Given how different Blists Hill Victorian Town is currently operating at the moment it really did not spoil our day in any way. In fact, I think its fair to say that we got more from our experience with the calmness and simplistic running of various buildings we were able to spend some time with members of staff and learn more about the Victorian way.
For more information regarding visiting Blists Hill Victorian Town or other sites within the Ironbridge Gorge Museums group check this welcome back page. It is packed with all the information you could possibly need.
Read more about other places we have visited here.
** We received free entry to the Blists Hill Victorian Town’s press day to witness how the attraction was operating during the Coronavirus pandemic and share our thoughts. All thoughts and opinions are our own.