Tag Archives: History

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Ironbridge Gorge – June 2014

The wheels keep on turning and this weekend we have headed over to the other side of the country to Telford in Shropshire and to Ironbridge.

This is where the industrial revolution began and what happened in this beautiful corner of the country impacted the world that we live in today in ways that you can only start to imagine. There is a good reason why Ironbridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Whilst the main attraction of Ironbridge is the Iron Bridge itself, there are 10 main museums up and down the valley covering Iron making and all that it brought as well as the areas other claim to fame, pottery. The museum that you must visit if you do no others is the Blists Hill Village where a victorian town has been recreated with fully functional banks, butchers, bakers and even candlestick makers. This museum alone can take you a full day and is brought to life by an army of volunteers all in authentic costume. If can feel quite strange walking in through somebodies front door and finding them sitting in front of the fireplace knitting and telling stories about what has been going on in the village that day.

Many of the shops actually sell stuff and you can even change your cash into pounds, shillings and pence at the bank first to spend in the shops. There is a pub where songs are sung around the piano and real ale is served behind the bar. The fish and chip shop is certainly worth a visit and serves up some of the best chips (fried in beef dripping) I have had in a long time.

The other museums vary in scale with some taking literally 20 minutes to cover whilst others taking much longer. We purchased a family annual passport at £68 which covers 2 adults and up to 4 children which works out best value if you intend to visit at least 2 museums during the year. Indeed we may well return within the 12 months as we really did enjoy our weekend here. Full details can be found on the main Ironbridge Gorge website www.ironbridge.org.uk

Whilst best explored on foot there is both a Park & Ride scheme in place as well as a shuttle bus that connects the different museums.

We all found something that we enjoyed is Ironbridge and look forward to returning in the future.

 

 

A Day Out :: Pinchbeck Engine Museum

Pinchbeck Engine Pump House

On the outskirts of Spalding in Lincolnshire, as you drive along the A16 you may just see a small sign post to the Pinchbeck Engine Museum. I must admit that since moving to the area 4 years ago, we have passed that sign many times and every time we have said that we must pop in for a look.

So here is the history part.

Not that long ago, somebody thought it would be a good idea to drain the Fens (they are in the east of England) for farming. A similar thing also took place in Holland and it is by no coincidence that this area is known as South Holland.

So drains were dug and water was drained and something unexpected happened. As the land dried out, it sank. The result was that the fields around the drains ended up being below the water level and of course, water cannot flow up hill.

And so pumps were installed. At first they were wind driven and then steam took over once the steam engine was invented. Today these pumps are electric and are all over the east of England.

The Pinchbeck Engine Museum is one of the few surviving steam pumps and whilst it has now been replaced by modern electric pumps, it has been preserved.

The museum seems to operate little or no advertising and I have yet to meet anybody else who has been there. Indeed a quick look at the visitors book suggests that you will not be queuing to get in at any time which is a shame as this is a genuinely interesting attraction.

Pinchbeck Engine

So upon arrival in the empty car park, the pump house is located in impeccably kept grounds with a nice picnic area. As we got out of the car we were met by Ken who personally showed the three of us around the museum explaining to us what everything was, how it worked and the history behind it.

Essentially the Pinchbeck Engine is a large steam engine that drives a large water wheel that then lifts the water up into the river and it has all been really well preserved

Pinchbeck Engine

So overall, we were on site for about an hour. Entrance was free of charge (although there is a donation box) and it was a genuinely interesting and informative day out.

So if you are in the area (the A16 is a popular route to the East coast) then why not stop by? You will be glad you did.

There are a load more photos in my photo album which you can find here.

Pinchbeck Engine Museum On Bing Maps