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
( 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 "
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