Sites visited included the charcoal furnace at Leighton which is conveniently located within an excellent pub (The Kynnersley Arms). Members of the group decided to eat there on the two evenings of the trip. The interpretation of this site is a problem made worse by the nineteenth century water wheel whose orientation confuses matters. But the problem was fun to tackle.
We looked at Abraham Darby the First’s innovative coke fired furnace detail. Later the group worked its way down towards the River Severn, following the complex evolution of iron production in the gorge (the weather was bitterly cold but the physical activity just about compensated for that) .
The working cupola furnace at Blists Hill provided both warmth and interest. A run of liquid iron takes some beating for excitement.
On the last morning the group visited the famous bridge and then the blast furnaces at Bedlam. We were lucky to be guided through the area by local archaeologist (and photographer) Richard Hayman whose doctoral thesis is about the Shropshire wrought iron industry and who used to work for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. He provided interpretation with more sophistication than that available to most visitors.