Following in the footsteps of the Industrial Revolution…… Ironbrige, Shropshire, England

Woolly says – it was dark, dank and dismal as I peered out of the window, I sighed, would sunshine never be a part of my life again? Pulling on an extra layer I followed my carer to the car and clamoured in.  We had a loose plan for the day but given the weather conditions that might have to change as we went, I was happy to go with the flow and tucked into my after breakfast snack to pass the time as we sped through the Shropshire roads.

A large squeak erupted from my small companion with lots of paw waving which seemed to indicate that we needed to turn, being open to anything I smiled down at him and followed the brown signs.

Woolly says – Founded in 1135, Buildwas Abbey was a Cistercian (originally Savigniac) monastery located on the banks of the River Severn in Shropshire, it was a signpost that we had passed many times so today seemed the ideal day to actually stop and investigate it.  Jumping out of the car I raced across the deserted carpark to take in my first look at the now ruined abbey.  Signs told us that preservation work was underway to shore up the remains which actually looked rather good to me.  A large number of columns showed where the main area of worship would have once been with small rooms leading off a central court with some rather lovely ceilings and floors which seemed to have survived with very little help. 

Against the dark cloudy backdrop, it looked quite spooky which I rather liked.  Having taken pictures from every angle possible we left the small but rather lovely building on its own and set off once more.

With no real plans in place it seemed like fate as we arrived at a cross roads with a sign for Ironbridge.

Woolly says – Having visited the open-air museum in the town previously it was a place that I had never actually been to.  The area around Ironbridge is described as the “Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”, based on the fact that Abraham Darby had perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke, in Coalbrookdale, allowing much cheaper production of iron which started the building of many of the machines and engines that paved the way for industry across the world.  The famous bridge gave the town its name, as we pulled into the carpark, I caught a glimpse of the impressive structure in the distance. 

First stop was the small Museum of the Gorge and as Jo paid for our tickets, I trotted into the small exhibition area to learn more about the area.  The bridge had been completed in 1780 which turned the small town into an overnight tourist attraction as well as using the river to transport clay, iron and coke to other large towns and cities the place thrived even going so far as to build a hotel to accommodate the people that arrived.

The displays showed small collections of china, ceramic tiles and wrought iron hat had been produced nearby but other than some information boards there was little more to see, in fact the exterior of the building was far more exciting with its castle like appearance. 

We set off along the river passing the Lincoln Hill Limekilns that had operated between 1760 and 1870.

As the bridge got closer I became more impressed with its construction and having taken the much needed snaps of it from a distance I was intrigued to stand underneath it’s nearly painted frame and try to work out how on earth they had put it all together and which piece of ironwork had been the first to go in. 

It was defiantly a feat of structural engineering, standing underneath gave an incredible view of the planning that must have gone into it.

Woolly says – Having admired it from below I raced up the incline to see what the view was like from above.  Ironbridge had been built around a large natural gorge with the muddy River Severn passing far beneath us, the view of the town showed how the houses had been squashed into the hillside with tiny roads and alley ways leading to the church that had a magnificent view across the whole area.

With my tummy rumbling and a large number of eateries to choose from we found ourselves in spoilt for choice, a strangely named café called Truffles took my fancy and provided us with plates overflowing with food.

Our walk back to the car took us past some rather quaint houses and a large number of bars and restaurants to cater for the masses who still flock here in the summer months.  A large former mill caught my attention and in the hope of warming up a little we went in to investigate its vast contents.  From Victoriana through to the vivid colours of the 70’s it was a treasure trove of things to be discovered.

Having removed a large fireman’s helmet from my small friend and ignored his request that we needed to buy a particularly gaudy orange lamp it was time to depart before he could contemplate his need for a commode!