The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire has been awarded a £1 million National Lottery grant via the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Announced at an event marking the trust’s 50th anniversary, the grant is a match-funding scheme. Every pound the trust raises for a new endowment over the next four years will be matched by HLF, to a maximum value of £1 million.
The endowment will create an annual income that will be used to preserve and protect the Old Furnace (pictured) and other significant buildings and monuments in Coalbrookdale.
The money from the endowment will also create better access for the public and improve the interpretation of the sites, so that people gain a better understanding of their significance in world history and the development of the Industrial Revolution.
Anna Brennand, chief executive of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said: “We are delighted that the trust has secured this significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and we are very grateful to National Lottery players for making it possible.
“Our team’s hard work starts now, as we have four years to raise an additional £1 million as match funding.
“This grant…could not have come at a better time, as this year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the trust and this grant will help ensure the museum continues to thrive for the next 50 years and beyond.”
In April 2017, the trust launched its new Coalbrookdale Masterplan, along with its associated fundraising campaign, which will see the conservation and development of the museums and monuments there.
The first phase will be the creation of a new destination cafe, with work starting in autumn 2017.
Future phases, once funding has been secured, will be the refurbishment of Enginuity, the National Design and Technology Centre, along with the creation of a new Collections Store, as well as further works to the Old Furnace and associated buildings.
Ironbridge Gorge is a six-square mile Unesco World Heritage Site, home to one of the world’s largest independent museums, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT).
IGMT cares for 10 museums, 36 scheduled monuments and listed buildings, which welcome around 500,000 visitors per year.
The Museum of Iron re-opened at Easter after a six-month refurbishment. It tells the story of iron and the innovations that were discovered at Coalbrookdale, which triggered the Industrial Revolution.