Friday, July 02, 2010

A Step Back in Time - part 2

We were, as some of you knew, at Blists Hill Victorian Town near Ironbridge in Shropshire. We had a lovely day on Monday wandering around the town. It is some years since our last visit and there was lots more to see and do this time. I don't remember these cottage gardens from last time; the lady in the lovely working/field sun bonnet was picking peas or beans.

We walked along the canal side as far as the Hay Inclined Plane which connects the canal at Blists Hill with the Coalport canal. The tug boats coming from the mines and foundries at Blists Hill would be lowered on the plane to the Coalport canal which eventually connected with the River Severn so that goods could be exported all over the country and beyond.

The remains of the blast furnaces from the old foundries were still in place and the town has been built up around them.

Then it was down the main street, past the doctor's house, of which more later, where we found the fairground on the green, opposite the school.

Inside the school there was a class taking place and all the children were learning their 2 times table by rote - one two is two, two twos are four, three twos are six and etc. No photos allowed whilst the class was taking place - the building is the old Stirchley Board School.

Down past the clay mine where later we had a ride on a railway into a 'mine' to watch a short shadow display about a father and son caught in the mine after an explosion caused by fire damp. We were encourage by those trapped to move swiftly back up the tunnel to the waiting fresh air. We moved on to one of my favourite buildings on the site - Squatter Cottage.

The lady inside told us all about the family who had built the cottage in the 1840s and who lived and worked there. Apparently according to the 1851 census there were eight in the family, and only one bedroom in the cottage. The members of staff who interpret the site are wonderful; some are animateurs who stay in character and period no matter what questions are thrown at them. Others dress in costume but communicate as in the present and explain what life would have been like towards the end of the 19th century.

Just around the corner from Squatter Cottage is the Shelton Tollhouse.

Here the toll keeper explained about the building of the toll roads especially the one served by this tollhouse which ran up to Holyhead so that politicians and businessmen, who had complained bitterly about the state of the roads, could reach the coast and sail to Ireland more easily. The family who lived in this house would have been better off working class with a steady income even so the house came with the job and wouldn't be owned by the tollkeeper.

Whilst waiting for passing carts and carriages she was knitting balaclavas for troops in the Transvaal. Below are some more photos of the toll house.

As we still have to visit the doctor's house, watch some outdoor theatre, visit the post office, the bank and look at some privvies and pig sties, if you can bear with me a little longer I will come back soon with part three!


  1. We went last year and we loved it! yhere seems to be a bit more there now, and what a beautiful day you had!

  2. Thank you for taking us on tour with you -lovely! The old buildings, and way of life interests me a great deal (love to have an old black stove like that:) ).

  3. I am enjoying the tour, but also all the tempting titles of the books you've recently read. Don't you just love Penelope Lively? And, was An Education as good as the movie???

    Happy weekend to you!

  4. We visited this place years ago but it seems that there is a bit more to it now, I like the characters they bring the place alive.

  5. I really must get to Blists Hill again sometime. It is such an interesting look back in time.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    Susie X

  6. It looks like a fascinating place. You are such an informed historian Rosie that I think you could quite easily get yourself a job there!!!

  7. Yes, I thought it was. I must go again.


  8. Hubby and I went in 1990!!! and loved it, but it looks so much better now - Roll on retirement - I have too many places on "the list" now! Thanks for taking me back there Rosie. xxx

  9. I've enjoyed viewing your blog this afternoon...this is my first stop here, but will be back! Very interesting!

  10. Really interesting posts. I find it fascinating findinbg out more about the way people used to live.
    I sometimes wonder how we could cope if we had to go back to living like that...
    Take care
    Isabelle x

  11. Wonderful! Had not heard of this town.... will go on my "Places I'd Love to Visit" list!