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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron (Telford)

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Address: Coach Road / Coalbrookdale / Telford / TF8 7DQ

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      09.03.2011 17:57
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      Local for me, Educational, fun and suitable for all ages

      ~~Coalbrookdale and the Museum of Iron~~ We had to cancel our main two week holiday at the last minute and so my husband decided to please me by taking me to visit our local attractions; we purchased an Ironbridge Passport ticket which allowed us entry to 10 museums around Ironbridge. The Coalbrookdale and Museum of Iron was on 2 minutes drive out of Ironbridge right behind the Aga Rayburn factory. It is quite easy to get to and has two large car parks, with disabled parking facilities as well. It is a pay and display car park, blue badge holders park for free. We had no idea what to expect when we came here as in all the 23yrs I have in this area I have never once visited. ~~ A Little History~~ Before the world's first Iron bridge was built in 1779 the area of Coalbrookdale was a deep river chasm, running through the Shropshire Valley which is now known as the Ironbrige Gorge; today Coalbrookdale is the dense wooded valley which runs north of the River Severn. Coalbrookdale is rich in natural resources and it has been mined here and iron work produced since the Tudor times and the reign of Henry VIII. It was in the late 17th century that Abraham Derby discovered a new and cheaper way of fuelling the iron industry by using coked coal instead of the more expensive wood. His success led to the Industrial revolution and Coalbrookdale became a very busy and productive area. Darby moved to the area with John Thomas (his young apprentice) in 1708 and started their experiments using coked coal as fuel, 12 months later they were successful in smelting the iron with coke made from the local low-sulphur supply of coal. The revolution is in its early stages but it has started and followed on by generations of the Darby family after including the building of the worlds first Ironbridge. ~~ Our Visit ~~ As I mentioned earlier we had no idea what to expect and I was a little concerned as I thought I may only get to see loads of greasy machinery (I really didn't do any homework before this visit). We parked the car up and made our way towards the entrance, it was a good day to visit as it was raining outside and the whole visit is conducted inside the building. As with all of the Ironbridge attractions the entrance and the exit are positioned inside the gift shop, you actually queue here to get in alongside people that are buying the odd trinket to remember their visit. I should imagine it could get very busy at the height of the tourist season, or at weekends and bank holidays, but it was quiet on the day of our visit as the school holidays had only just started. We asked the lady what we needed to do about the use of the lift, she advised us to look around the museum first which is on the ground floor, then go over to the café area to enter the lift which will take us to a further two floors to look at. She stamped our Ironbridge passports (this is a ticket that allows you to visit all 10 of the attractions), and we were on our way. My hubby gently steered me away from all the expensive memorabilia and into the first part of the museum. We watched a short film telling you about the history of Coalbrookdale, Abraham Darby and the Industrial Revolution (although the majority of the attractions in Ironbridge showed a film, they were all slightly different and you got to learn more by seeing it demonstrated). Whilst I watched this my hubby had a wonder around the museum without me, which was a bit silly really as he still had to wait for me to go around it as well. After we finished in here we walked across to the other end of the shop and through the café, we didn't stop for a drink here as we had a busy day planned, but I did note how clean the café looked and the beautiful design of it with a couple of cast iron figures holding lamps in the middle, really effective and pretty. We went through a door at the side of the café to get in the lift. When we got to the first floor we decided to walk across to the other side and walk around as if we had taken the stairs, so we followed the pattern of the exhibits. Here was set out with pieces of machinery and scaled down working models demonstrating how things were done. Now I can honestly say that these models would interest both young and old, you see I am old and I enjoyed watching them working and there was this lad aged around 9 yrs old turning the handles and making them go, so that I or anyone else could see how they worked. He seemed to really be enjoying this and kindly showed me a couple of pieces of equipment and then continued to show other people until I heard his dad calling him to stop and move on. There was also a scale model of how Coalbrookdale would have looked as well as a shop dummy dressed as Abraham Darby. I thought that this floor was very interesting and had a lovely interactive way for you to see and learn. I was like a kid in a sweet shop and had to try everything much to my husband's annoyance. After my husband finally prised me away we got back into the lift and went up to the second floor, to both of us this was worth waiting for, it was the cherry on the top of the cake. This was called the Great Exhibition and the whole design had a Victorian feel about it, there were wonderful displays of cast ironwork from over the centuries, including ornate chairs, cast iron Great Danes, tables, Aga cookers, statues, fire places and many more, there was even one section that was set out like you was in a park sitting on a bench to have a rest. It was very impressive and beautiful to look at. After spending some time at the great exhibition and taking lots of photos we took the lift back down to the ground floor; we spoke again to the lady at the desk and bought a little gift for my daughter; the lady kindly gave us the directions and parking instructions for the next two places on our agenda for the day, and with that we set off for the next one. ~~How to get there ~~ Directions M54 Junction 6, coming from Shrewsbury you need to go round the island and take the 3rd exit towards Dawley. If you come from Wolverhampton side then it is the first exit off Junction 6 sign posted Dawley. Follow the road A5223 Lawley Dr right through the lights and over a couple of roundabouts until you come to the last roundabout sign posted Buidlwas and Much Wenlock? You take the 2nd exit down Jiggers Bank and following that road until you see a brown sign telling you to turn right; if you come to the traffic lights you have missed it by about 20yrds. It is a one way system that operates here as you go in one end and come out further down the road due to the narrow lane to it. ~~Other Info~~ There are very good disabled facilities available and there are toilets for you to use, I can't comment on them though as I did not use them during my visit. On display in the museum you will see a chair which was made for William Ball who was an iron-puddler fondly known as 'the Shropshire Giant' due to his rather large frame as he weighed over 40 stone. In 1850 he led a very large procession with over 4,000 people to celebrate the birth of Abraham Darby II, he had to be lifted on to his horse by a crane. ~~Opening Times~~ It is open 7 days a week between 1000hrs and 1700hrs ~~Prices~~ Adult Passport Ticket - £21.95 Over 60's passport ticket - £17.60 Child and Student ticket - £14.25 Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children I believe) - £59.95 Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron ONLY Adult £7.40 Over 60 £6.90 Child/Student £4.95 All these tickets last you for 12 months and let you return as many times as you like and allow you access to all 10 Ironbridge Gorge Trust attractions, I could not find individual prices to see it as a one and only. ~~Opinion~~ This was one of the better museums of the 10 we visited around Ironbridge, it was very interesting, educational and fun. Although it is not one I would keep going back to like the Blists Hill Victorian Town, it is one I am pleased that I have seen. I would most definitely recommend a visit, and I would most certainly get the passport and have this as one of the must see ones. There were a couple on the passport which I'm glad I've seen, but wouldn't ever want to go back to; I would visit here again, but only to refresh my memory in a couple of years time. It is worth a visit for all ages, especially if you get the passport ticket and visit it as part of all the Ironbridge attractions. Thank you for taking the time to read my review Arnoldhenryrufus (Lyn x )Open 7 days a week!

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