After The Flood ~ The Primrose Path

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After our sunny blue-sky Monday, Tuesday was back to dank and gloom. Undaunted, though, we decided on another local jaunt, this time to the nearby River Severn and the historic settlement of Jackfield, a couple of miles downstream of Ironbridge. This old industrial enclave was once the centre of the 19th century decorative tile manufacture – two vast factories, Maw & Co and Craven Dunnill that once shipped their products down river and thence around the world to grace the walls of palaces and grand public edifices.

These days the remains of the Craven Dunnill works are given over to the Jackfield Tile Museum, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, while the remnant buildings of Maw & Co house craft workshops and apartments and the very pleasing Tile Press Cafe which was where had lunch – halloumi toasties with lots of salad.

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Part of the former Maw & Co decorative tile factory now used for workshops and small businesses.

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February had seen some massive flooding along the Severn Gorge, and we were glad to see the river was pretty much back in its bed, though still flowing fast and furious and above usual levels. Turbid was the word that came to mind as I took this muddy shot.

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One of the worst and serial casualties of Severn flooding is the traditional old pub,  The Boat Inn.  It stands in a hollow below the footbridge to Coalport, and its front door records nearly a century of flooding. This year’s deluge was one of the worst, making third place under the 19 feet 5 inches of February 1946, and just above the 1947 flood of 19 feet 1 inch. In fact the 1940s saw 4 really bad floods, with the next worst in 1966, so this extreme excess of water is by no means a new event.

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And here’s what it looked like last month, photo courtesy of The Shropshire Star on-line:

Boat Inn February 2020

It’s hard to contemplate the horror of being on the receiving end of so much water. The inn sits at the lowest point of the settlement and apparently floods from behind as well as to the front. The flood inside then holds the front doors shut against the outside flood! We felt so sorry for the licensees. There was not much sign of life when we walked by. Hopefully it will be back in action soon.

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The inn sign gives a big clue as to the business of the past. This is one of the big trading barges (Severn trows) that used to ply the River Severn. Until the railway arrived, trows provided ideal means of transport for the Ironbridge Gorge ceramics industries, including porcelain from the Coalport China Works just across the river – much smoother by boat than by 19th century roads.

For some fascinating old photos and more history from Jackfield please visit From Shropshire And My Shins Are Sharp blog.

Wandering back to the car past The Boat Inn’s neighbouring cottages we didn’t see much obvious sign of flood damage there, only the clump of celandines and primroses by a cottage gatepost which seemed like a sign of hopefulness and recovery. Here they are again.

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37 thoughts on “After The Flood ~ The Primrose Path

  1. That’s a lovely walk, we have done that a few times and over the bridge to Coalbrookdale. I’m glad the water has receded but can only imagine the horrors that people have experienced. The primroses and celandine are a sign of hope.

      1. We once went to look at a house for sale along there, but decided that although it had never flooded it was too big a risk. A shame because it had a lovely studio and a nice garden.

      2. I find it quite an alluring spot, and often imagine what it might be like to live there, but then the river is truly alarming when in spate, even if it isn’t threatening your house.

  2. Spring is here. It’s so easy to forget, isn’t it? I am sort of quarantined and almost certainly suffering from this horrible bug. So I have begun making it a evening ritual to go out into my small back garden and breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the abundance of life. Last night I watched a robin eyeing me from no more than a few feet away. I wondered at first if it was sick too, because it seemed to be fluttering its wings in an odd way. Eventually it hopped-flew (if you see what I mean) to an adjacent clump of ivy and then spied me again. Perhaps it’s building a nest there I wondered, before it finally flew-hopped down again and disappeared behind the neighbour’s fence. Lovely. The small things suddenly mean so much more.

    1. So v. sorry to hear you’re suffering, James.
      Italian figures indicate all victims elderly, 10% over 90yrs, and with 1-3 existing serious conditions; also in highly polluted region.
      https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

      So keep taking the air, and the sun whenever it comes out, and lots and lots of water – warm not cold, and hot drinks. And get better! And I agree – bird watching is also a very therapeutic activity.

      1. Thanks Tish.
        As you probably know from my posts I take a less sanguine view and am very concerned about the overall trajectory of this pandemic. I think the figures in S Korea are the best we have because they’ve done the most testing and I am inclined to question the figures in the Swiss report – reliable figures are surprisingly hard to find actually (I just looked). Instead I found this:
        Harlan Krumholz, a professor of cardiology and outcomes research at Yale Medical School, cautioned that comparing countries is a tricky endeavour. “We don’t know numerators or denominators. The information is not comparable,” he said.
        He said that the best information was probably from South Korea because it tested so many people. “Everywhere else is biased,” he said, depending on who is doing the testing, who is considered severe enough to be hospitalised and how you determine whether a death is related to the virus or not.
        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-death-toll-italy-south-korea-sex-update-cases-map-men-women-a9413271.html
        But enough of the gloom. Let’s hope we get on top it soon and meanwhile try to enjoy the sunshine and flowers.

      2. Very kind of you Tish and much appreciated. Do take care of yourself too.

        This also cheered me up a bit… one Sheffield man’s very alternative approach to self-isolation:

        Life doesn’t get any more laid back than on Pat Dickinson’s channel!

  3. I went here a long time ago Tish when I lived in Worcestershire where the Severn breaks its banks at various places. The sight of the pub is heartbreaking though and one can only hope it will be opening time at the Ship Inn before too long. I was interested to know about the trows – a smoother passage for china and pottery surely. Thank you for the the little floral vignette – just perfect for this first day of Spring.

  4. It’s quite heart-breaking to see the flood levels recorded like that. I hope for the licensee’s sake (well everyone’s really) some normality returns soon and you have a lovely spring/summer.

  5. I always wonder at the tenacity of people that have to keep coming back and back again to clean up after each flood. I noticed 2014 was a particularly bad year. What a cheerful note to end on with the cheerful spring flowers. All this will surely pass.

      1. and to have this crisis on top of it . . . at least I guess these guys will get proper insurance compensation. Well I hope they do.

      2. Flooding and insurance are very hairy matters. I know in the big Wenlock flooding of 2007 quite a few householders were not insured. Horrible to think of.

  6. Like Pauline I can’t imagine coming back for more. I would just be sitting in a pool of tears. 😦 🙂 The sun has just peeped out after a day of heavy rain so I’m going to follow your advice to James. Breakfast on the patio. Stay safe, Tish! 🙂 🙂

    1. Soak up the rays, my dear! We have some sun now, though temps are a bit frigid, and certainly not warm enough for breakfast outside. Will stick nose out later when the sun’s got its act together.

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