Friday, 7 November 2014

Ironbridge and ... November, Shropshire

Iron Bridge   GJC_014561
Iron Bridge
Following on from the walk I did with the large party of people up The Wrekin at Wellington (previous post), the group leader abandoned plans to complete his original additional circular walk from Wellington. We were so late for lunch that the restaurant in Wellington had to let the tables go and consequently the group split into two for ease of accommodating so many people. As it looked like lunch was going to be finished by 2:30 - 3pm and dinner would be served at the usual time at The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury, it was suggested that we stayed with the people in the cars we travelled with for some free time. The driver (Cumbrian Farmer) was open to offers, while my friend (Scarborough Sandcastle manager) and myself discussed the possibility of visiting nearby Iron Bridge for the first time. The fourth person (Knutsford pickup) was familiar to Cumbrian Farmer and was keen not to walk too much further after the mornings expedition so it was an agreed plan. Due to the nature of the Iron Bridge historic site and the fact that the Architect didn't design an adjacent tourist car park :-) we had to park a little upstream by The River Severn next to the Tourist Information and Museum of the Gorge. Setting off from the car and a quick look in the T.I. , it seemed that Cumbrian Farmer and Knutsford pickup wanted to spend more time in the museum rather than walk any further. Unaware of this information and with 1 hour of daylight left, Scarborough Sandcastle manager and myself pressed on to view the site for the very first time.

Ironbridge  GJC_014567

So often in history, settlements and subsequent towns can find themselves placed next to a river for defensive or trading reasons but it doesn't take a genius to realise that the town of Ironbridge was created and developed as a result of The Iron Bridge. The worlds first cast iron bridge was built in 1779 / 80 spanning 100 ft (30m) by Abraham Darby III replacing a small ferry service the family operated. The Darby family were heavily involved with innovative manufacturing processes at the start of The Industrial Revolution and the bridge somehow became a symbol of that. It seemed a shrewd move that the builders continued with the construction of The Tontine Hotel (pictured above) directly facing the bridge. This accommodation allowed and enhanced visits from Engineers of bridges, Industrialists and early tourists to view this remarkable and unique structure.

After doing so many blog posts that include the works of Thomas Telford (Shrewsbury, Menai Bridge, Betws-y-Coed, Llangollen, Bala Lake and Tobermory), it would be nice to suggest that he was the designer of the bridge, but it was the inspiration to build a longer structure with half the weight further upstream at Buildwas. Unfortunately that bridge no longer survives due to the power of the River Severn as many local residents and Environmental Agency can testify to, as they dry out their homes regularly and plug another gap in the flood defences respectively.

Iron Bridge by night    GJC_014585
Iron Bridge at night
Meanwhile back in the 21st century, after observing the bridge with my friend for a short period of time, it was a mystery as to whether the others were walking slowly towards us, injured or resting in the museum. The sandcastle manager decided to retrace his steps to investigate with the inspiration at the very least of a car window observation of the bridge for the others. It was unfortunate that I didn't have time to explore all the alleys of such a place as I had to remain visible to short term car parking restrictions, however I was rewarded with the inversely proportional reduction and illumination of light.

Festive window  GJC_014586
Darlingtons Ironbridge
What seemed to turn into an age and in the lower light, there wasn't much else to photograph in a 30 - 50 metre section of street other than a difficultly lit Christmas shop window and a ... errr ... pork pie wedding cake !! ....

Pork Pie wedding  GJC_014572
Eleys Pork Pies, Ironbridge  http://www.eleysporkpies.co.uk/wedding-pork-pies/
( This third and final post from Shropshire is a lot shorter than usual due to reasons you'll understand that were outside my control. I haven't managed to catch up with many blogs this time so for the sake of time and an obvious publishing deadline for the remainder of the post, I'll leave you with some seasonal images for this month ... something I haven't had the opportunity of displaying before ... )

Memorial silhouette GJC_014568
War memorial. Ironbridge
Thoughts turned to November as this was Remembrance weekend (exactly one year ago) for those that gave their lives in military service.

Memorial  GJC_014618
War Memorial, Shrewsbury
The following morning the whole group were given the option of attending the wreath laying service at the Shrewsbury Quarry war Memorial.

Remembrance day  GJC_014621
Remembrance Day, Shrewsbury
Despite these occasions always being somber and respectful, the regiments of Shropshire and Shrewsbury seemed to make the event far greater than that.

On my wanderings around the town of Shrewsbury I stumbled across two pieces of artwork drawn at random on walls in unusual places ...

We will remember them   GJC_010692 - Version 2


Lastly before I "dash off", November seems to have become a time when voluntary "Movember" men grow a specific part of facial hair to raise awareness and sponsorship for research into mens health. It also seems to signify my sparse activities on blogger :-) ....

Movember   GJC_010691 (1)
" Movember man "

18 comments:

  1. Great shots of the bridge. It was truly an inspiration to future engineers. I love the bridge but dislike the area.
    I also hate travelling in company. How you manage to take your shots is beyond my comprehension.

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    1. Thanks Adrian, I was hoping to see the bridge for the first time at some point over the weekend and it happened.
      It can be a bit of a pain as some of my friends can get irritated by my camera and the strange angles I point it at :-) ...as I'm sometimes last in a walking party. I usually have to display a good shot or two to appease them. They have to accept that I come with the camera and even though I might function at 80% of my photographic capability, therein lies my challenge with some of these blog posts and places I wouldn't have otherwise seen. In one sense I was disappointed to be shackled to a small section of road for about 45 minutes but pleased that I could capture the bridge at various stages of illumination. I suppose if the people I was with decided not to go on this trip, I might have stayed at home and missed out completely on the last two posts. I plan to do a solo post before the end of the year ... which won't disappoint I promise.

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  2. Those are some great shots of the bridge. I have to say that the pork pie wedding cake is a new one for me! In my area we call it, "No shave November".

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    1. I had to look twice at the pork pie wedding cake in the window because I didn't believe it, never seen one of those before. I did a Google search and it's a bit more common than I thought.

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  3. Great cartoon. :-) Your photos of Ironbridge bring back some fun memories of our visit there with stay in Jackfield. I would love to be able to look into the past and see Ironbridge at the height of the Industrial Revolution. I don't think I would want to have visited it then, however, just look from a distance. I enjoyed your post, love Shropshire.

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    1. Thanks Cranberry Morning, I'm sure the Iron Bridge structure would have been an amazing structure to the locals when it was built but most people wouldn't enjoy it as it would mean more work. It's strange how Shropshire has become one of my most visited counties in the last few years, not by choice I hasten to add, more to do with the headquarters of this organisation and a central location in England for people from all parts to travel to.

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  4. J, I really like that night shot through the window. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks JoLynne, the exposure of the window shot was a little tricky but worth the attempt in order to bring a little bit more variety to the post.

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  5. A great place to visit and your shot of the shop window is brilliant. Feels very Dickensian! As to the pork pie wedding cake, hmmm, different! I've seen one done as a stack of cheeses (that would definitely clear the noses!!). The art work was very sobering. Take care. x

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    1. Thanks Chel for stopping by with your appreciative comments. I usually look out for an unusual or humorous shot to end with such as the Pork Pie cake but thought I'd try and keep with the mood of what I captured.

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  6. Great post and photographs, as usual, JJ. I particularly loved the one of the bridge at night. Ironbridge is indeed a pretty special kind of place, for all sorts of reasons. History and the need to grab blog photos aside, it is a nice place to just meander around - and maybe sample some pies...

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    1. Thanks Mike, it was my first visit but unfortunately due to circumstances outside my control, not enough time for a cup of tea or a look behind the main street far less a Pork Pie !

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  7. You have captured some fabulous photos of Ironbridge. I hope you get chance to go back and explore some the places you missed. I like the shot of the window all lit up :-)

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    1. Thanks Cherry, I waited a long time for my first visit and inspired in recent years by three bloggers. I'm not sure when my next visit will be as very often destinations like this are not in my hands. In recent years my personal wish list has moved from the mountains to the coast.

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  8. A bridge as a symbol of The Industrial Revolution... that sounds interesting. Families like the Darby family surely made all the changes to happen and thanks to them The Industrial Revolution spread further. I would also like to see the life at that time captured like in a film to have better idea what it was like. Expectations mixed with hard work, I guess.

    The open door from the dark street to the lit shop looks inviting, I like that capture. As for the pork pie wedding cake... well, I'm happy that no one came with that idea at my wedding! :)

    I like that Remembrance tradition. It is not celebrated in the Czech Republic and as far as I know, here we celebrate especially the end of the WWII, it takes several days, and locally a wreath is laid down to a local war memorial on this or that occasion...

    I understand how difficult it is to take photos when travelling in company unless the company is focused on taking photos, of course. If you don't shoot in the style of point & click, you need time and quickly become the hindering one. I usually travel with my family, it means with our kids and I even stopped taking photographs at certain period because I couldn't focus on what I saw at all.

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    1. Thanks Petra, Usually each regiment in the Remembrance service lays a wreath.
      I didn't have varying material for this post but as you say the door to the shop was inviting.
      Strangely enough I probably had too much time on my own with the camera on this occasion but I was trapped in a specific section of the street while I waited for the car to arrive. I must have taken about 50 images of the bridge as the sky turned darker. I would have liked the opportunity to go to the other side of the bridge and get a better reflection in the water. I was going to say another time perhaps but by the law of averages and the places I end up at ... I'll probably never be here again.

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  9. The bridge at night is an awesome shot, J_on_tour!

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    1. Thanks Traveling Hawk, Pleased you enjoyed the shot of the bridge.

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