The Society’s annual study tour, led by Ken Hollamby and administered
by TravelWright of Newark, was based at Harper Adams University,
Newport, Shropshire from 12 to 16 July. On the outward journey the
afternoon was spent at the Black Country Museum in Dudley, a huge open
site with a wide range of domestic, commercial and industrial features.
first full day in Shropshire was centred on the historic Ironbridge
Gorge. At the Jackfield Pottery we saw how modern encaustic tiles are
made (as for the Palace of Westminster) and browsed the extensive museum
collection of tiles. The iconic Ironbridge is being restored by Historic
England and a specially constructed walkway enables visitors to see the
original ironwork at close quarters and hear about the work being
undertaken. The quiet and relaxing afternoon was spent at nearby Blists
Hill Victorian town.
On Saturday morning we absorbed the sights,
sounds and smells of Acton Scott Farm Museum. A conducted tour
introduced us to the buildings (farmhouse, barns, stables, brick-kiln,
workshops) and animals (sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs) of this authentic
working farm. By contrast, the afternoon revealed the highlights of
Shrewsbury and the town’s connections with Charles Darwin; Peter Worsley
was our expert guide.
The final full day, under Glynn Coppack’s
leadership, was devoted to Shropshire’s archaeology and historic
buildings. Included in the tour were Buildwas Abbey, Wroxeter Roman
site, Acton Burnell Castle and Stokesay Castle. We heard about the
history and development of each of these significant sites.
morning of our homeward journey we visited Ditherington Flaxmill
Maltings, a large building complex dating from the late eighteenth
century, currently being restored. The iron columns and beams of the
principal building – the earliest such recorded structure – give it
Photos: Opposite top - Silicone rubber mould, Jackfield Pottery; Opposite below - Ditherington Flaxmill Maltings; Lower left - Buildwas Abbey; Lower centre - Wroxeter Roman site; Lower right - horse gin, Acton Scott Farm Museum