Hello, thank you for popping in. I didn't mean to be away this long but I am having a few tech problems at the moment, so thank you for bearing with me. The good news is that it has warmed up a bit here, but I am still in long sleeves and it's been raining.
So, following the (albeit limited) success of last week's impromptu afternoon outing, yesterday I got home in the early afternoon and suggested to the Best Beloved that we go out for a couple of hours. We were out of the house within ten minutes(!) and before too long we were in Ironbridge. We went there in January on a much sunnier day and I wrote about it here if you would like to read about it. This time, we parked in Coalbrookdale and walked along by the River Severn -
I stood on the bank and looked east towards the famous bridge, built in 1779 -
In case you are not familiar with it, this was the first cast iron bridge to be constructed in the world, cast in the furnaces of Abraham Darby III at Coalbrookdale, which is why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A settlement grew up around the bridge on the north bank of the river, houses clinging to the steep side of the gorge -
The bridge opened on 1 January 1781 and a toll was charged to those who used it -
The Darbys were Quakers and so believed that all men were equal, so even if you were a member of the Royal Family, you would have to pay the toll. Fortunately, it's now free for pedestrians to cross and so we always do and when we reach the other side, we turn around and cross back again! While we were up there, I took some photos of the views. This one is looking west -
And this is the view to the east -
Shall we have a closer look at those boats moored up on the south bank? -
Opposite, on the north bank, the nearest house to the camera was the home of the Rogers family, coracle-makers for more than 200 years, and the corrugated metal roof you can see in front of the house is the shed in which those coracles were made. If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you should be able to see a coracle propped up against the wall of the house -
Here is a picture of that shed, said to be the last coracle shed in England, which I took in January -
The last in the family line, Eustace Rogers, died in 2003 and the shed has stood empty ever since. I read that the owners of some of the bars and restaurants which overlook it wanted it to be pulled down because it spoiled their views, but another faction considered it to be an important part of the area's history and wanted it to be preserved. Three days ago it was announced that the Ironbridge Coracle Trust has purchased the shed for the princely sum of £40,000 and will be conserving it and opening it to the public. £40,000!!
After taking a look at the shed, we walked underneath the bridge and the Best Beloved took this photo to give you an idea of how it was constructed -
It's a lovely place to spend an afternoon and I have never tired of it. I reckon I could blog about it every day for a month (don't worry, I shan't) and have something new to show you every time. There are museums, little shops, cafes and restaurants. The wooded slopes of Ironbridge Gorge are beautiful, as is the little flowerbed by the bridge -
As we made our way back along the uneven pavement to the car park, it began to rain -
We sheltered under a plane tree for a few minutes, then hurried to the next tree to shelter again, and so we made our way, laughing, back to Coalbrookdale, tree by tree. The cobwebs had been blown away.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x