Tourism chiefs have acknowledged what everyone who has visited any of the Ironbridge museums knows only too well – that they are outstanding!
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is celebrating after being awarded two prestigious titles – the Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Chairman’s Award for the 2010 most outstanding contribution to tourism by an organisation and the joint gold regional Culture Award.
The awards, which celebrate the very best of the West Midlands’s tourism industry, were presented at a gala dinner in the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham.
Announcing the awards, Brian Summers, chairman of tourism West Midlands said, “World Class is an expression that is often over used and frequently said about organisations that seldom warrant the praise. But this tourism business can truly claim this accolade.”
He spoke of the growth of the Trust since it started life 40 years ago, its reliance on willing volunteers and how it has helped regenerate a community.
“Those early volunteers could only dream that they were laying the foundations for what was to become an international icon for industrial heritage and a major player in the tourism industry.
“From day one this Museum has been a pioneer in the tourism industry, always striving for excellence in every aspect of its operation”, continued Brian. “It works hard to ensure what is good for the museum is always good for the World Heritage Site and the wider tourism economy of Shropshire and the West Midlands.”
The Trust recently invested more than £12 million in the Blists Hill Victorian Town, has won it critical international acclaim, as well as commercial success. Improvements included a new visitor centre with a giant state-of-the-art film show and the new parade of shops along Canal Street.
Steve Miller, CEO of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said he was thrilled with the awards.
“The trust has had a fantastic couple of years following the launch of Blists Hill Victorian Town's major development,” he said.
“Not only has the number of paying visitors seen a dramatic increase, but the Museum has also gained much praise from industry professionals and members of the public alike.
“Blists Hill has been selected by a number of national television companies as a location for programmes such as the Antiques Roadshow and Victorian Pharmacy. It has also won, or been shortlisted, for numerous prestigious awards, raising the profile of both the Museum and the whole Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.
“This award recognises these recent achievements and the years of hard work by thousands of individuals who have helped the Ironbridge Gorge Museum become an international icon of the Industrial Revolution and one of the country's top tourist attractions,” concluded Steve.
He added that the Museum was also delighted to receive the joint gold regional Culture Award, which it shared with the Heritage Motor Centre, in recognition of work done to help give a greater understanding of the area's history, heritage and its contemporary culture.