Here Comes the Summer

Kids bored already? Here’s a few ideas to keep them occupied.

ironbridgeWith the school holidays well underway there are plenty of attractions for young and old taking place at Ironbridge Gorge.

The British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA) will be forging a new iron sculpture over the weekend of Friday 10th–Sunday 12th August at Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the ten Gorge Museums. You can watch the skilled craftsmen at work then have a go at blacksmithing yourself – even complete novices of all ages will be able to forge a small item under the supervision of an experienced blacksmith. The new sculpture, which will be displayed in Enginuity, the Design and Technology centre at Coalbrookdale, is being forged as part of BABA’s international AGM and hands-on conference being held at Blists Hill Victorian Town this year.

A  three man team, Olly Boyett, Matt Snape and David Frazier, were each invited to produce a design for the sculpture. Olly’s concept was selected but they were all so well-received that the final sculpture will incorporate ideas from the three designs.

As much of the forged work as possible will also be undertaken at Blists Hill Victorian Town with some 75 blacksmiths working in small teams, each forging components for an individual section of the finished sculpture. Later some finishing work will take place at a forge prior to the sculpture’s installation at Enginuity. Around 800Kg of iron will be used in total. Best times to view the blacksmiths in action will be Friday afternoon, 10th August, all day Saturday 11th August and until mid-afternoon on Sunday 12th August.

Town Criers from across Britain will also be taking part in the fourth annual Town Crier Competition at Blists Hill at 11.30am on 12thAugust.  With many dressed in elaborate robes with tricorne hats, the town criers will make quite a spectacle. They traditionally ring a handbell to attract people’s attention as they shout the words “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez”, which means ‘hear ye’ and is a call for silence before making their public announcements.

As the event takes place on the last day of the Town’s Blacksmith weekend, the theme is aptly ‘blacksmiths’; the winners’ prizes will be made in Blists Hill’s own foundry and will be presented at 2pm. Shrewsbury’s Martin Wood, at 7ft 2 inches the tallest Crier in the world, will be running the competition;

If that’s not enough, there’s the opportunity to dress as a pirate and take part in Blists Hill’s Treasure Island weekend bank holiday weekend from Saturday 25th–Monday 27th August. The fun literary event is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular maritime book of mutiny and buried treasure.

The last remaining Severn Trow, a cargo boat which operated along the River Severn in the 1800s, will be transformed into Treasure Island’s famous vessel, the Hispaniola, where Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins will judge the best Pirate of the Day costume. The winner will have their picture taken by Roland Percy Smitheman at Blists Hill’s own photographic studio in Canal Street.

Costumed actors from the Sundial Theatre will recreate well-known scenes from the novel twice daily and there’s a competition to find buried treasure.

An Annual Passport Ticket allowing entry into all ten Ironbridge Gorge museums, valid for twelve months and unlimited return visits, costs £23.25 per adult, £18.75 for the 60 plus, £15.25 for students and children and £64 for a family of two adults and all their children aged up to 18 years in full time education. Individual museum entry tickets are also available.

For further information, contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visit  The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).