You can celebrate the birth of flight during the February half-term with an array of themed family activities at Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge Museums as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.
2017 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Wilbur Wright (16th April 1867), who flew the world’s first successful aeroplane back in 1903 with his brother Orville, while the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart, was born 120 years ago on 24th July 1897.
Flight simulator and pneumatic rockets and gliders at Enginuity
Discover the fun of flying as you sit behind the controls of a flight simulator at Enginuity in Coalbrookdale (10am-4pm). Choose your aeroplane, sit in the pilot’s chair and watch the big screen as you use your skills to make it safely take off, fly and land - or crash with all on-board! The flight simulator activity is included in the museum entrance fee.
You can also build and launch a pneumatic rocket at drop-in workshops between 10.30am and 3.45pm for £1 (plus admission). Craft materials such as paper, card and plastic will be used to create model rockets of around 30cm in length, which can then be ‘fired’ from Enginuity’s air powered pneumatic launcher through a selection of suspended targets. Alternatively, make a paper aeroplane and join daily record breaking attempts to beat the longest flight at 12noon or 3pm. Afterwards complete the Flight Trail and discover more about famous engineers and fliers who helped us take to the skies. All these activities will take place throughout half-term from 18th to 26th February.
Between 20th and 24th February go along to Enginuity’s Fab Lab and use the 3D printer to make 8-inch long gliders from special plastic for a small fee of £1 for each model (plus admission). Then design decals for your glider on the computer, cut them from coloured vinyl using the vinyl cutter and stick them on to your glider, which you can take home and fly outside.
Falconry displays and kite-making at Blists Hill Victorian Town
At Blists Hill Victorian Town, where life over 100 years ago is recreated, you can watch magnificent birds of prey swoop over The Green in daily falconry displays between 18th and 26th February. There will also be the chance to ‘Meet the Birds’ in a fun session daily from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm. There will be a varied selection of different birds each day such as Eagles, Hawks, Falcons & Owls.
You can also join a workshop to design and make a kite from craft materials between 11am and 1pm, then fly it on The Green during the early afternoon. Each kite carries a small fee of £1 in addition to the museum entrance charge. Families can also follow a flight themed trail around the Town during the holiday week.
Flight themed tile and ceramic clay workshops
Between Saturday 18th and 25th February, excluding Sunday 19th, join drop-in flight themed tile decorating workshops at Jackfield Tile Museum and use your imagination to decorate tiles using the traditional tube lining technique; perhaps a hot air balloon, flying saucer, aeroplane or other flying ‘machine’. Tiles cost from £5 each (plus admission) and can be fired and sent home later for a small extra charge to cover postage and packing. 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 flight themed workshops from Tuesday 21st to Thursday 23rdFebruary to try sculpting your own flying creature from air-drying clay; choose from a bird, dragon, insect, bat or wherever your imagination leads you. Throughout the half-term 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 all ceramic items carry a small charge of £1-£4 in addition to the museum entrance fee. Afterwards follow a trail to discover the many birds from across the globe, which are featured in the museum’s ceramic collections.
Information for visitors
All the museums are open from 10am until 5pm (Blists Hill until 4pm) during the February half term. 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 18, £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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