I had a wonderful weekend with Linda in Jackfield and the lasting memories of our time together are a wonderful present. The weather behaved even if the car didn’t. Yes, yet again it decided not to start and required the assistance of the B&B owner and his son to get the thing started. However, this didn’t dampen the spirits, only reaffirmed my resolve to rid ourselves of it at the earliest convenience.
Firstly, a correction, last night I had a couple of Jaegermeisters to prevent any onset of dyspepsia attributed to the rather rich meal enjoyed in a local hostelry. This refreshing herbal concoction appears to have had an alcoholic content not factored in to my calculations and I may have been in a slightly inebriated state as I scripted my blog. This and using my hand held device led to a number of errors, including syntax and spelling. However the largest mistake was naming our lodgings as Jackfield house, it was in fact, Calcutts House. My humble apologies and my promise to resist Jaegermeister are offered.
Calcutts House is steeped in history, not that the owners thrust this down your throat, in fact the very opposite. They are pleasant and engaging hosts, they will even push your car should the need arise. They cook a fantastic breakfast and make excellent coffee and are full of pride and enthusiasm. According to Linda, guests at the house include William of Orange and Thomas Telford. It was built by Archibald Cochrane, the 9th Earl of Dundonald and the founder of the Tar industry, his nephew in law, a John Macadam gave his name to the product, Tarmacadac. We slept in his bed, all seven feet square of it and it was a bit lumpy but the grandeur of it all wasn’t lost on us. The house has, in its’ time been a cholera hospital and was to become an early library started by Henry Dunhill whose factory produced millions of decorative and flooring tiles, becoming recognised as the centre of the tile industry and is now the site of the national tile museum.
The area no longer has the appearance of a centre of industry, there are only a few reminders, the largest set of railway crossing gates, stand as a monument to Jackfield Middle Sidings on a railway bed that is inching ever closer to the Severn. The wooden road alongside the tile museum is a testament to the seemingly futile battle against gravity and unsafe mineworkings as it slides a metre down hill every year. Apparently £3m has been set aside to shore up the road as part of a £50m grant to stop Ironbridge being squished out of existence. I suggest they get their fingers out and crack on. It isn’t like they haven’t been warned
We enjoyed a couple of hours in the Tile Museum and whilst it isn’t particularly exciting in the way museums seem to have to be these days but it does make up for this in other ways. Not least by the fact that it has reopened to produce the tiles exactly as they were back then using the same machinery and techniques to ensure the authenticity and in the week you can see the tile production process and even buy the products from the factory outlet.
We also visited the Iron working museum and the original Blast Furnace used by Abraham Darby to allegedly start the industrial revolution and most certainly cast the iron to build the bridge synonymous with the town. The marvel of all these visits is that the cost is inclusive on the annual family pass that we bought at Blists Hill in the summer. So whist they may not be crowd pulling-ly magnificent on their own, as part of a package they really do work, it is a brilliant idea and one that will hopefully secure these treasures for years to come.
I would have posted up my pictures but I need to process them and whilst attempting this my Vauxhall Optical mouse decided to pack in and no about of persuasion would get it going. A job for tomorrow then.