Monday, 4 February 2013

Ironbridge Gorge Museums

Hello Readers,
Since it's a new month I'll close out January's Facial Hair of the Month - the goatee.  Stay tuned for historic February's selection.

The Goatee - thanks for playin'.
Carol Seppanen Book Update - Since I enjoyed Raymond Chandler's books so much I decided to give Dashiell Hammett a shot.  Hammett and Chandler were mystery/detective writing contemporaries and Hammett is credited by many fellow writers (including Chandler) as being an inspiration.  My first Hammett selection is Red Harvest, 186 pages.  Hammett is mostly known for creating Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon fame but my first selection focuses on Hammett's unnamed Continental Detective Agency operative from the San Francisco branch.  It was pretty good but I preferred Chandler's books against this first selection.  Chandler seems to have had a more colourful and captivating writing style so far but I'll keep reading Hammett's works before I make a final judgement.  I have a four novels in one book so we'll see what I think of the other three novels - The Dain Curse, the Maltese Falcon, and The Glass Key.  I liked Chandler's word phrases better so far but this phrase describing putting on a clean shirt did grab me - "I bent a fresh collar around my neck and trotted over to the City Hall".  It also gave me the Auntie "B" Word of the Week - laudanumed.
On Saturday we went back to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.  Last year about this time we went with the Freys (blog post) but they couldn't go this year so we went by ourselves.  Our tickets are good for all eleven attractions/museums in the gorge for one year and we saw three last year (Ironbridge, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Museum of the Gorge) which left seven to see.  Unfortunately four of the attractions (Tar Tunnel, Brosely Pipeworks, Darby House, Ironbridge Tollhouse) are seasonal so they were closed again which left four to see (Coalport China Museum, Jackfield Tile Museum, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Enginuity).  After sleeping in since three of us are feeling a tad under the weather we drove to our first stop, the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron (link).   The museum covered the areas contribution to the local and national iron industry.  Kind of a dry museum but it did have a few interesting parts and a funny part at the end.

Some iron processing related examples.

Smelting also refers to freeing fish from local streams in the U.P.  U.P. smelting needs darkness, nets, waders, and beer for the non-Yoopers.

I thought this was interesting.  See picture below.

Read above.

Lots of words for Auntie "B" today.

'This is an iron fireback cast in 1636.  In the bottom left is one of the earliest illustrations of a British blast furnace.'

Iron industry in the area we are in dates to the 1600's, or about the time people in the US were starting to branch out to the 13 colonies areas.  Wow.

Giant air bellows that are essential to any forging process.

Necessity is the mother of invention part 1..

Part 2...

And part 3.

Another word for Auntie "B" - cupola.

Am the only one who sees "Shropshire" and thinks of the "Shropshire Shlasher" every time? 

James Watt who we learned about in Scotland.

'Shinglers Boots.  A shingler was a man who manoevered wrought iron under the blows of a forge hammer.'  The shinglers wore these and face masks to protect themselves from the metal and slag.

A fine period painting by Joseph Wright of Derby.

For below.

Read above.  The second floor of the museum was an exhibition floor of mostly cast iron works.

Andromeda here was cast around 1851.  We visited her rock by Tel Aviv, Israel in 2012.  See Kalle in the background?  This was taken a few seconds before noon at which time the bell in the next room sounded.  Karl and I jumped while poor Kalle started running the other way.  

Karl and I doubled timed it to the bell to see the hammer strike it a few more times.  Kalle showed up a minute later telling us how the bell scared her so she took off running in the opposite direction.  Sympathy averse Karl and I started laughing as did Kalle as she told us what happened.  Lori was in a different room at the time.  Not sure why but the story was really really funny as Kalle told it.

Early cast iron lawn mower.

The exhibition also showed some decorative garden benches with flower and plant designs.  The picture doesn't capture the fine workmanship detail.

The Aga cooker.

What's an Aga cooker you ask?  They were manufactured locally in the 30's and are still made today per the literature.
After the museum was Enginuity (link), a hands experience for kids of all ages according to the literature.  The kids love the hands on, intro to engineering type places so I wanted to come here and it ended up being the "winner winner chicken dinner" award winner.  Kalle said it was the "best place ever" twice so I think she liked it.  Karl was busy the whole time so I think he liked it as well.  It was about the size of a small pole barn and only one story but we still spent almost two hours in it.  Definitely the hit of the day.  Not only for us there was a wedding party in there as well (no pictures, sorry Tara).  Kind of an odd place for a reception I thought but maybe they were locals.
Kalle had to show me the x-ray machine twice.

Ever wonder what teddy bear guts looks like?

A wide angled shot of about half of the fun palace.

1901 Lifu Steam Car, read below.

For the picture above.  "... this country lagged behind..."  So surprising to read those words in England.  JK Brits.

We had fun moved tiny plastic up the scoop wheel, down and across the bucket conveyors, across on the trolley, up the screw, across on the bucket, then into the bin to be scooped up again.  Lots of wheel turning and hustling to move these balls around town. 

Kalle turning the wheel to move the No. 5 Locomotive.  They learned a little bit about power generation at this exhibit.

For the No. 5 Locomotive curious in the crowd.

Fighting robots - this place keeps getting better and better.  (These were display only.) 

So pigs do fly.  At least they do when you spin the wheel enough times.

And some bridge facts thrown in on the mezzanine.

Some metal sculptures on the mezzanine to keep the bridge facts company.  Mr. Watt is talking to a funky apple here.

More sculptures.  Kind of neat in a Tim Burton type of way.

The kids each built two story buildings to check their earthquake stability design then as a family we built a four story model and tested it.  Result?  Don't ever live in the top half of a building we build for you.

The kids had a blast feverishly feeding fuel into the crazy boiler while Lori and I added the water.

I like these 'glimpses through time' displays.
Sunny day with temperatures in the low 40's.  Pretty nice day to hop between museums.  On the left is the viaduct built in 1862-4 for trains, a fountain in the middle, the Old Furnace in the triangular building, and a rusting metal sculpture on the right.
Boy and Swan Fountain close up.

We learned about The Dissolution of the Monasteries in Canterbury last weekend.  This furnace dates to 1658.

For the picture below.

Top view of the info board above.

Diagram of the furnace in its heyday.

Side view of the furnace.  Kind of interesting info boards but not a whole lot to see here.  Hard to see but the date above the bellows opening reads 1638.

For the picture below.

Read about the Snapper Furnace above.

View of The Long Warehouse on the left where gates and ranges were assembled.  Straight ahead with the clock tower top is The Museum of Iron which used to be a warehouse.

One more close up of Boy and Swan.  I liked the playful innocence captured in them.
Next up was a short ride to the tile museum.

The museum included a next door building called Fusion which was half full of artsy type shops that were mostly closed.  These glass glasses were the highlight of Fusion.
Similar to the Iron Museum the Jackfield Tile Museum (link) covered the areas contribution to the tile industry.  The history was again a little dry but I have to admit the tiles on display were impressively beautiful.  I did learn a little about the tile industry but a lot of the museum didn't seem to sink in for me for some reason.

I think this type of town naming is very common.  One of the reasons this area was so industrially productive was its plentiful sources of timber, coal, iron ore, clay, limestone, and transportation (the River Severn) according to an info board.

Enough natural resources to make three tile producing companies nationally renowned, pretty impressive for the small size of the area.

This place also made pottery in the 1700's.  Note the tile producing peaked in the 1800's above and remember that the iron industry was started in the 1600's in the area.  Lots of industry here.

See picture below.  I guess I need to pay better attention to pottery as I've never heard of the famous black pottery.

Now you can say you've seen the famous 'Black Decanters'.

Maw & Co information.  This is kind of a "oh that's nice" place so far.

I'll have to start watching out for this logo now.  They imported tiles all over the British Empire.  Seen this logo before Dana?

Original stairs and tile leading into the old Craven Dunnill tile works which was opened in 1874.  I really like these older places that show the conditions as they were instead of refurbished to the best guess.

Galleon panel from 1910 made of lustre glazed tile pieces.  The start of the visually appealing tile displays.

More tiles.

The Prince was here.

I liked the Geisha tile.
Another tile I liked.

Wouldn't my Temple Guardian and Fireplace Guardian looks good sitting on this beautiful green tiled mantle?

Offices furnished like they would have been in the 1920's.

View down the alley.  Fusion is on the right.

The swan handled pottery on the right was neat.

Still not sure what this is but I think it would look nice in our house.

Tiles date back to the Egyptians 6,000 years ago.

Neat looking trivet.

And Lori complains about my facial hair styles.  Check out what poor Mrs. Maw had to live with.

Remember learning about Titania in Stratford-Upon-Avon?  The kids did.

Colourful life sized Othello tiles.

Religious tile display.

Another fine fireplace.  Hard to see but the chair have tiles in their backs.

A Sunderland bar reproduction tile display.

This just captured my eye so I had to include it.  I am really enjoying the sights in this place now.

I liked the dour boy and his faithful companion here.

Some fine 3-D patterns were on display.

Exported to America in 1855, impressive I thought.

They also had funny tiles.

Here's a freebie Auntie "B".  See the example below.

Read above.

Interesting kiln process description.

Kiln remains.

I really liked some of the tiles in the shop but we didn't buy any.  This and another one really really really tempted me. 
Final stop of the day was the Coalport China Museum (link) which was another few minutes down the road.  This was more of an in and out stop.  Not much to see here.

Tracking our day's journey.  We started in Coalbrookdale on the upper right and made our way to Jackfield then Coalport on the bottom left.  On our previous trip we started at Blists Hills on the bottom and made our way to the Iron Bridge in the middle.

More of my favourite porcelain dainty damsels.

The china industry here peaked in the 1800's.

Some basic early teaware.

Some decorative teaware.

Colourful cup and saucer.

Four lobed cup and saucer with embossed flowers design.

Not the small, and wretched 'hovel' I was expecting.  Another freebie for Auntie "B" but I'm sure she knew this definition already, I can't stump her very often.

They built this and the previous museum around the manufacturing areas which was a little odd and a little interesting.  According to the info boards, between WWI and the 1960's production was moved out of Coalport due to lack of demand.  It moved back with the eventual sale of the company. 

More child labour reminders.

More health reminders of working conditions in the 1800's.

Lead was a common hazard in the manufacturing process.

The museum path lead us into the hovel which freaked out Kalle at first.  This is looking up at the smoke hole. 

Some royalty plates.

A plate of Tintern Abbey, our favourite abbey ruins in the UK.
Exiting the hovel and realising Lori and Karl are lost.  Or Kalle and I are lost.  Oops.  Another "Where's Kalle?" shot as we try to find each other. 

A gritty look down the site to other manufacturing buildings.

The high and fast River Severn.

Not sure if the texture of the plates will show through in the picture.

Cool looking leaf design jug with an angry man figurehead.

Chinese pottery trivia.

Interesting trivia that may only interest me.
An interesting day overall.  We all loved the hands on fun place and found the local industrial museums semi-interesting.  The weather cooperated as well which always helps over here.
On Sunday was Kalle's 11th birthday party.  She had three girls send regrets and four girls accept.  We planned a stay at home, watch a movie and play games party and Kalle (and the girls I think) all had a fun time.  Originally we planned on going to the theatre but the movie times didn't cooperate so we switched it to an at home movie.  Some of the games were draw a shape on a plate on top of your head without looking at the plate, make a duct tape rose, and guess how many milk chocolate coated almonds are in the jar.  They watched a TV show series for a bit, listened to music, talked, ate (Costco monster cakes instead of traditional birthday cake), talked (they are girls you know), and made a scrapbook page of the day.  A fun afternoon after a surprisingly quiet beginning.  All five girls were silently watching the TV show at first so we showed them a couple of tricks, put on the music, and the party took off. 
My favourite part was watching the girls draw wedding dresses, dogs, and their names on the plates on their heads.  They laughed through this game.

The gang.  Kalle, three of her classmates, and a neighbour.  The neighbour is the daughter of Todd (the family from Washington state) from our Sunday football club, his other daughter was one of the RSVP regrets as were two of Kalle's other classmates.
Speaking of football, I have a Jeff Seppanen sports update this week.  I stayed up for the 11:30 PM kickoff Super Bowl.  The game was pretty good although I wasn't rooting for either team.  The 35 minute power outage delay did not help me as I didn't get to sleep until 4 AM which makes me pretty tired today.  The sling adaptor was working so I was able to catch the commercials as well but most of them were pretty poor IMO.  Next year will be better as the game will be prime time instead of early morning time.  Last year I watched the game on the BBC and missed the commercials.  After watching the good (Paul Harvey Farmer) and the bad (GoDaddy model and nerd close up kissing) commercials this year I'm not sure if I missed anything last year. 
Next Saturday is a return to London with the Freys and meeting Brandon (hometown classmate of mine) for the Phantom of the Opera and a few attractions.  I can't hardly wait.
Thanks for listening,

1 comment:

  1. That's definitely a weird place to have a wedding party, but maybe they do things different over here!