Thursday, August 24, 2017

Coalbrookdale, Shropshire

 Showing your wares

In my previous post I focused on the former Severn Warehouse at Ironbridge, an industrial building that was built with an eye to appearances, a deliberate eye-catcher. This time, a rather plainer industrial building not far from the one in the previous post, but one with one particularly eye-catching feature, something that is perhaps more effective as advertising than the Gothic structure of the old Severn Warehouse.

My photograph above shows the building housing the Museum of Iron, which the Resident Wise Woman and I had decided to visit. It’s a fascinating museum, giving us plenty of background on iron and inorworking in general, on the various generations of the Darby family and the great John ‘Iron Mad’ Wilkinson in particular, and on the products of the industry in Coalbrookdale, from fire grates to firearms. All this is housed in a brick-walled warehouse building, put up by the the Coalbrookdale Company some time in the first half of the 19th century. The striking clock tower bears the date 1843, but this is said to be a later addition to an already existing building. Some sources say that the warehouse was first built in 1792, but it’s not shown on a map of 1805. 1838 is the likely year of construction.

Part of the structure is appropriately of iron – there are iron columns inside holding up the floors, but there’s also much wood in evidence: this is not one of those fireproof buildings that many textile mill owners, mindful of sparks igniting wool or cotton, liked to put up. Iron is also in evidence on the outside. The white-painted window lintels and sills are cast iron and the window frames are metal. So too is the clock tower, an elaborately decorative addition to an otherwise utilitarian building. It’s an effective piece of publicity for what you could do with metal in a decorative way, and a signal, perhaps, that as the Victorian era got up steam, manufacturers in Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale would increasingly be asked to produce highly decorative items – kitchen ranges, stoves, tables and chairs, not to mention garden railings and post boxes. There is a lot of this sort of stuff inside the museum. The clock tower is, you might say, exhibit number one.

1 comment:

bazza said...

I am attracted to quaint or ornate industrial architecture. In this part of the world the old disused Abbey Mills pumping station is a favourite.
I really don't mind if the buildings are plain, especially if there are ornaments such as this one has.
See my literature quiz at: