So this week we paid a visit to Blists Hill Victorian Town to see what we thought of it. The idea behind the museum is that it gives you a chance to experience life as it was over 100 years ago through the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a recreated Victorian Town. In the various cottages, shops and workplaces, there are Victorian characters who will give you an insight into Victorian life. It’s a great place to teach children about how life was lived in the past as history is brought to life with working machines and friendly, talkative staff.
Our first stop was at the bank to exchange our modern money into pounds, shillings and pence to spend on the site. You don’t need to do this if you don’t want to as modern money is accepted too. Either way, the bank is worth a visit to get an insight into how financial services worked in the old days.
For us a shop that couldn’t be passed without a visit was Blists Hill’s old-fashioned sweet shop. H picked out some dew drops and some rainbow drops or nonpareils (those chocolate discs with hundreds and thousands on them). Naturally, I didn’t want to be left out, so I opted for that Black Country delicacy: Herbal Tablets. They are an acquired taste, but I think they’re my favourite sweet.
H is a bit of a fish and chips monster, so it was pointless trying to bring a picnic with a traditional fish and chip shop on site. Blists Hill cook the fish and chips in beef dripping, which makes them taste fantastic.
Another culinary delight at Blists Hill is the bakery. Just walking inside the door is enough to make you feel hungry because of the delicious smells. We bought a fruit loaf to take home and it was really nice. It didn’t last long at all because it was snaffled up very quickly.
Blists Hill is quite a big site with its 52 acres of grounds. We went for a walk to burn off all those chips from lunch. Strolling alongside the canal on the towpath, you soon feel like you are in the middle of the countryside with birds and butterflies dancing around. We walked as far as the impressive Hay Inclined Plane which was used to transport boats down a steep slope with a 63m drop. H and his friends found plenty to play with in the woods on site and various games involving kings, queens and knights were played. I hadn’t expected so much open space on a museum site, so the amount of woodland at Blists Hill was a very pleasant surprise.
H and his friends loved the Victorian fairground. You can go on the swings or the merry-go-round. H always likes the games where you can try your hand at hitting or scoring or whatever to win a prize. So we had a go at the coconut shy and a few others. Every child gets some sweets, which is just as well because some of those skill tests are really difficult. The staff really made it too and even produced stools for children to stand on to have a go.
We didn’t get around all the activities at Blists Hill: you can make a multicoloured candle; get your picture taken in Victorian dress; and see skilled workers plying their trades. Some of these involve an extra charge.
There’s a lot to do and see at Blists Hill Victorian Town. We were there for over 4 hours and didn’t get round everything. It can easily be an all day trip, especially if the weather is good and you can explore the site fully. We have a passport ticket which cost £27.50 per adult and £16.50 for a child. This gives you the chance to visit all 10 of the Ironbridge museums over a 12 month period, so it can work out to be pretty good value. You can also pay individually for access to specific sites. H is keen to visit the Enginuity museum next, so I might be reviewing that very soon.