Blists Hill Victorian Town

The Hay Inclined Plane was one of the first canal boat-lift inclines to be created and was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Coal, iron and other products were conveyed from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town down to the Coalport Canal and thence to the River Severn.

The Hay Inclined Plane was one of the first canal boat-lift inclines to be created and was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Coal, iron and other products were conveyed from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town down to the Coalport Canal and thence to the River Severn.

Date

1 April 2015
Location

Blists Hill

SJ 69603 03613; 52.62940°N, 2.45052°W

Information

Further Reading

Hay Inclined Plane;
Blists Hill Victorian Town

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Darby Houses, Coalbrookdale

Eagle Slayer (John Bell), bronze sculpture cast by the Coalbrookdale Company around 1848.  The piece was purchased to commemorate the founder Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, E Bruce Ball (1903-1985) and is on display in the Darby Houses.

Eagle Slayer (John Bell), bronze sculpture cast by the Coalbrookdale Company around 1848. The piece was purchased to commemorate the founder Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, E Bruce Ball (1903-1985) and is on display in Rosehill House.

Date

30 March 2015
Location

Coalbrookdale

SJ 66680 04967; 52.64140°N, 2.49385°W

Information

The Darby Houses in Coalbrookdale are one of the ten attractions run by the Iron Gorge Museum Trust and were the homes of various members of the family of Quaker ironmasters. Rosehill House was built in the 1720s and has been in the care of the Trust since 1978. Dale House served as the Manager’s House for the Coalbrookdale Company and its construction was started by Abraham Darby I, who in 1709 revolutionised iron smelting by using coke rather than charcoal. Dale House suffered from a 20th-century flat conversion, but is now in the process of being restored to its condition of the 1780s, the period when it was the residence of Abraham Darby III, who built the world’s first cast-iron arch bridge.

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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron – Great Exhibition

‘Africa’ lamp standard, from a series of four cast-iron standards representing continents, produced by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1860s and thought to have been designed by John Bell

Africa lamp standard, from a series of four cast-iron standards representing continents, produced by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1860s and thought to have been designed by John Bell

Date

30 March 2015
Location

Coalbrookdale

SJ 66770 04671; 52.63874°N, 2.49248°W

Information

Further Reading

Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

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Coalport Tar Tunnel

Tar Tunnel with drainage pipe on the left and wells cut into the tunnel walls

Date

30 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalport, Telford

SJ 69417 02578; 52.62009°N, 2.45318°W

Information

In 1786, local Quaker ironmaster William Reynolds had plans to build an underground canal to transport coal from the mines at Blists Hill to the River Severn at Coalport. The following year, workers digging the tunnel encountered a spring of natural bitumen about 300 yards in. Although the tunnel was continued to around 1000 yards, Reynolds abandoned the idea of building a canal, concentrating instead on exploiting this natural resource. Holes were cut into the tunnel walls to collect the tar in wells and initially the sticky black fluid flowed in copious amounts, with over 1000 gallons per week being extracted for several years. Most of the bitumen was boiled up to make pitch for use as a preservative for wood. As the supply later dwindled, so too did the actual demand for the product. By the 1840s, production had come to an end and soon after a house was built over the tunnel entrance.

In 1792, the Hay Inclined Plane was completed. This connected the Shropshire and Coalport canals, thereby providing the transport link between the Blists Hill mines and the River Severn that Reynold’s project would have given.

The tunnel was still used by the mines for drainage and ventilation until the 1930s, and during the Second World War it served as an air raid shelter. It was rediscovered by the Shropshire Mining Club in 1965. Today it is open to the public as an attraction run by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. Visitors can access the first 100 yards of the tunnel, up to a locked iron gate, and bitumen can still be seen seeping out from the brick-lines walls.

Tar Tunnel

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Coalport China Museum

Coalport China Museum

Date

30 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalport, Telford

SJ 69613 02364; 52.61818°N, 2.45026°W

Information

The site of the Coalport China Museum was occupied from 1796 by the Coalport China Works, manufacturers of fine bone china famous for the quality of its hand-painted decoration. In the years following the First World War, the industry fell into decline and the works closed in 1926. Having seen a variety of other industrial uses in the intervening years, the factory was in a state of dereliction by the 1970s. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust opened the site to the public in 1976.

Coalport China Museum

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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

‘Africa’ lamp standard, from a series of four cast-iron standards representing continents, produced by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1860s and thought to have been designed by John Bell

Date

30 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalbrookdale, Telford

SJ 66734 04794; 52.63985°N, 2.49304°W

Information

The Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron is housed in the former Great Warehouse, built in 1838, of the Coalbrookdale Company and is one of the ten museums run by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

Close to the Great Warehouse are the remains of the blast furnace where Abraham Darby I perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke rather than with charcoal — this allowed iron to be produced much more cheaply than before and was one of the innovations that led to the Industrial Revolution.

Darby obtained a patent in 1707 for a method of mass producing cast-iron cooking pots. Under the ownership of the Darby family, the Coalbrookdale Company later diversified into other iron products and one of their most famous achievements was the construction, completed in 1781, of the Iron Bridge over the River Severn — the world’s first cast-iron arch bridge. During Victorian times, the company became famous for its decorative cast ironwork.

Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

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Jackfield Tile Museum

Jackfield Tile Museum

Date

29 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Jackfield, Telford

SJ 68608 02962; 52.62349°N, 2.46517°W

Information

The village of Jackfield, on the banks of the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, was once at the midst of the world’s decorative tile industry. Creation of ceramics in the area dates back to the 16th century, and by the 19th century the production of tiles in Jackfield was dominated by two major manufacturers: Craven Dunnill and Company, and Maw and Company. The industry in the village eventually fell into decline in the years following the Second World War.

The Jackfield Tile Museum is one of ten museums in the care of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and is located in the former tile works of Craven Dunnill. The factory was designed for owner Henry Powell Dunnill by architect Charles Lynam and was completed in 1874. The company moved out of the works in the 1950s and the site was then taken over by a metal castings company. In 1983 the factory was acquired by the Trust and tile production recommenced there in 1989. Craven Dunnill moved back to Jackfield in 2001 to take over the manufacturing business at the works.

Jackfield Tile Museum (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)

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Hay Inclined Plane

Hay Inclined Plane

Date

28 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Coalport, Telford

SJ 69528 02832; 52.62238°N, 2.45157°W

Information

The Hay Inclined Plane was one of the first canal boat-lift inclines to be created and was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Coal, iron and other products were conveyed from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town down to the Coalport Canal and thence to the River Severn.

Goods were carried in 20 ft long wooden tub boats, each with a load of up to five tons, and the journey from the top down to the Coalport Canal 207 ft below took about four minutes to complete. Two boats — the upper one laden, the lower one empty — would be guided onto submerged wheeled cradles and then a small winding drum would be used to lift the upper boat out of the water and into position at the top of the incline. Both cradles would then be attached to a rope around the main winding drum and the weight of the descending one would pull the other one up the track. Although the operation was mainly by gravity, the winding drums were also powered by a steam engine located in an engine house at the top of the incline.

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Blists Hill Victorian Town (3)

Machine Shop

Date

28 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Blists Hill, Telford

SJ 69603 03613; 52.62940°N, 2.45052°W

Information

The locomotive at Blists Hill Victorian Town is a working replica of the steam engine built in 1802 by the Coalbrookdale Company for Richard Trevithick. This was the world’s first ever full-scale railway locomotive.

Also on display at the open-air museum is The Spry, one of the last Lower Severn trows to be built. A trow was a flat-bottomed, single-masted boat with a large open hold designed for heavy goods transport on inland waterways. Trows would sail downstream and would be hauled when travelling in the opposite direction, originally by gangs of men, later by draft horses. The Spry was built in Chepstow and launched in 1894. Able to carry cargoes of up to 36 tons, the boat was used to transport loads of sand and stone. In 1936 it was converted for use as a barge to be towed by a tug, and it continued in service until the 1950s. The boat was discovered in Worcester in the 1970s and was later taken to Blists Hill for restoration.

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Blists Hill Victorian Town (1)

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Date

28 August 2012
Location

Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Blists Hill, Telford

SJ 69603 03613; 52.62940°N, 2.45052°W

Information

Blists Hill is an open-air museum run by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. It is one of ten museums operated by the trust in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire — a World Heritage Site generally regarded as the scene of the start of the Industrial Revolution. Blists Hill opened in 1973 and the 52-acre former industrial complex is home to a recreated Victorian town, with costumed actors demonstrating the various exhibits.

Industrial activity started at the site in the late 18th century with mining for coal, iron and clay. Blast furnaces and a brick and tile works were also later developed there. The remains of these industrial structures are incorporated into the museum, and the site also features a number of shops and businesses which have been either moved from their original locations and re-erected or built as replicas.

Ironbridge Gorge Museums; Blists Hill Victorian Town (Wikipedia)

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