The Iron BridgeWhat a peaceful & beautiful county Shropshire is nowadays.  It wasn't always so.   The little town of Ironbridge has taken its name from the famous monument of the Industrial Revolution,  the Iron Bridge,  first in the world to have been built from that material.  Erected in 1788,  it is very elegant,  but curious,  because it is visibly a wooden bridge, reproduced in cast iron.  Home of the technique of smelting iron using coke instead of charcoal,  the valley became hell on earth for a time,  the night sky & the clouds of sulphurous smoke lit up eerily by the fiery glow  from the kilns,  where half-naked men laboured endlessly to feed the white-hot furnaces with coke & iron ore.  The town has a series of working museums,  dedicated to items produced in the area,  cast iron objects of all sorts, useful or ornamental alike,  slipware tiles, Coalbrookdale fine bone china,  & there is  Blists Hill,  a Victorian town in miniature.  Fascinating stuff.Charles Darwin Statue

Shrewsbury is lovely,  hilly,  surrounded by the Severn on all sides,  full of interesting buildings & history.  It hit the headlines in 2009,  due to its most famous son,  Charles Darwin.  200th anniversary of his birth,  150th of the publication of his controversial book, "On the Origin of Species".  There is also a ficticious son, equally well-known, in the person of Brother Cadfael,  medieval detective, the brainchild of Ellis Peters.

Shrewsbury has a castle, but it is nowhere near as interesting as others in the county.  Greatest of all is ruined Ludlow, guardian of the Marches,  a Yorkist stronghold in the wars of the Roses,  but equally fascinating is little Stokesay,  a moated manor house, still virtually complete.   King Charles II's Royal Oak once The Severn at Shrewsburystood near Boscobel House,  but was unfortunately lost in a storm a few years ago.  A sapling, an offshoot of the former tree, grows now & will form a new Oak one day.    Modernity is catered for by the Air Museum of Cosford.  This is a branch of the Imperial War Museum devoted to aircraft of the Cold War period - big scary things!


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