Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shropshire is a truly nostalgic family day out. Step back in time from the moment you arrive. Change your money into Pounds, Shillings and Pence at the Victorian bank then stroll around traditional shops to spend it. Dogs on leads are welcome everywhere except inside food shops and cafes. We spent a day at Blists Hill during October half term. Here’s what you need to know to plan your visit.
Blists Hill Victorian town and shops
After strolling around the welcome exhibition, the first store you come to is the bank. Friendly bank employees will recommend how much money to change. We decided on five pounds each for the girls. Next, we took a stroll along the high street. There’s a grocers, chemist, post office and a photography shop where you can have a vintage photo taken. But with pounds, shillings and pence burning a hole in their pockets, the children couldn’t wait to get to the sweet shop.
We all chose a few sweets from the vintage jars and the shopkeeper weighed them out for us. They were all hard boiled sweets and lollies that were quite reasonably priced. You can spend either old money or modern money in the shops so it was interesting to compare the two.
We strolled around the other shops and also had a look in the pub. The bakery sells traditional bread and cakes, so we had to make a stop there. We took some delicious bread rolls home to enjoy with some jam we’d bought in the gift shop. It’s interesting to see what trades used to be in the town. For example, the saw mill and undertakers were in one large building. An ironworks, blacksmiths, locksmiths and various other establishments were dotted around and there are no vehicles except for the little mine experience train and a horse and cart.
Characters and demonstrations in the Victorian town
Various demonstrations take place in the town, including classes at the school and Victorian remedies in the pharmacy. Victorian townsfolk in character are happy to explain what they’re doing in their home or workplace. We enjoyed warming up by the fires on a cold day and listening to a Victorian lady explaining the meal she was cooking on the stove heated by the fire.
Another lady demonstrated traditional wood carving. The children were fascinated to see her making beautiful, intricate patterns in the wood. On Wednesdays, visitors can watch foundrymen pour molten iron into casts. Throughout the town, everyone is happy to chat about their role and way of life.
Other things to see and do at Blists Hill, Shropshire
We visited Blists Hill during school holidays, when the fairground was open. This is a funny thing because people and attractions were clearly very different in Victorian times. Our children are aged 5 and 7 years old and they were too small to go on the swing boats or the carousel. These were the only rides that were open and they were very quiet because it seemed that the children who were big enough to go on were too old to want to! Despite this, the girls enjoyed the little stalls at the fairground including the coconut shy and rolling balls to try and win a prize.
Another fun thing to do is the mine experience. Passengers board a miniature train and go off into the mine to find out what life would have been like for the people that worked down there. The children were fascinated to find out that many of the more dangerous jobs would have been carried out by little ones as young as five. Perhaps the odd bit of homework from school isn’t quite so bad after all. Riding on the horse and carriage was another highlight. It’s only a short ride but the horses are gentle giants and it’s lovely to see how people would have got around the town.
Eating and drinking at Blists Hill
There are plenty of food outlets around Blists Hill although dogs are not allowed inside most of them. The cafe at the visitor centre is dog friendly, but the others don’t allow dogs inside. That said, the cafe near the fairground does have an outdoor seating area. It was rather chilly, but we managed to get a hot meal and sit outside to eat it.
Other options for food and drink include the authentic chip shop where fish and chips are cooked traditionally, in beef dripping. Fresh bread is available from the bakery and there are a few food outlets and cafes dotted around, depending on the time of year you visit. There are also picnic benches around and some lovely spots to sit down near the canal. If we visit again when it’s a bit warmer, I’ll probably be inclined to take a picnic and let the children have something from the sweetshop or bakery as a treat.
What you need to know about visiting Blists Hill
Visiting Blists Hill with dogs: If you’re visiting with a dog, Blists Hill Victorian Town is very dog friendly, but it’s worth knowing where you can and can’t go. Dogs do need to be on leads throughout and can’t go into food outlets or shops selling food. Water bowls are available around the Victorian town.
Events at Blists Hill: Events take place at all the Ironbridge Gorge Museums at various times of year, including a Victorian Christmas at Blists Hill. It’s worth checking the website to see what’s on when you intend to visit.
Do you need to book to visit Blists Hill? It’s not essential to book in advance unless there’s an event taking place. We just turned up and paid on the door. However, it does work out cheaper if you buy tickets online in advance.
Prices: An up to date list of prices is available here. It’s cheaper to buy online through this link than on the door.