Rooftops Galore In The Severn Gorge ~ Even The World’s First Cast Iron Bridge Has One

Yesterday we treated ourselves to a Big Day Out, and on our own doorstep. We went to Ironbridge – all of five miles from the Farrell domain. We wanted to see what English Heritage was up to with Abraham Darby III’s monumental bridge – the high-tech PR stunt of 1779 in which a Coalbrookdale ironmaster set out to demonstrate that cast iron was the building material of the future.

He built a single arch bridge at the site of a notoriously dangerous ferry crossing, over a river prone to massive flooding while also accommodating the passage (without de-masting) of the large sailing barges (trows) that plied the Severn from Worcester.  All the numerous other Severn bridges required the trows to lower their masts. Doubtless this novel feature alone would have made the new bridge the talk of the river.

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Here’s a pre-wrapped winter view, glimpse of the toll house on the far right (since the Iron Bridge was always intended to make money too):

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Interestingly though, and here’s where the new ‘roof’ comes in, while Darby’s construction was daring in its vision and materials, its design has distinctly retro features – the  cast iron components were fabricated and assembled according to tried and tested carpentry methods with lots of dove-tail joints. On top of that, there has been much ground movement, general wear and tear and even structural shrinkage, so now the bridge is in serious need of restoration. While the work is underway, much of the bridge is shrouded in plastic. A walkway has been constructed along the north side of the bridge with viewing windows created at various points  so visitors can view the underbelly of the bridge at close quarters and see the restoration work in progress. It is one stunning enterprise.

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There may well be some controversy ahead though. Once the work is done, the bridge will be repainted – in its original colour on the opening day of 1781: a reddish-brown research has shown. For decades the bridge has been black or slate grey. Reddish-brown will be a real turn-up for the Severn Gorge location and doubtless a shock to some people’s systems. I can’t wait to see it – completion date is set for November just in time for a pleasing backdrop of autumn leaves.

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Here’s a view of the Wharfage from the Iron Bridge. The town of Ironbridge owes its existence to the bridge, which attracted tourists right from its opening in 1781. In 1784 the handsome Tontine Hotel was built overlooking bridge, and today is still a popular place to stay. The Severn Gorge is now a World Heritage Site.

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For more about the restoration project including a brilliant short video see:

English Heritage Saving The Iron Bridge

 

Roof Squares 8  Please pop over the Becky’s to join in the June Roof Extravaganza

Welcome To The Sunset Garden With Privy View

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Here’s a side glimpse of one of our C19th privies. I’m guessing the little aperture above the brick pile was there to provide some light on the situation. The adjoining facility also has one on the farther side. The privies share an internal wall – limestone – a good half metre wide, which seems a bit over-engineered to us, and at present stops short of supporting the roof rafters. He Who Builds Sheds is therefore wondering if he might remove it to make one useful shed instead of two impossible sheds, and all without altering the outside.

Meanwhile here’s the other shed, 2017 vintage, designed and built from scratch – with rubber roof. The double-glazed windows and door were cast offs from chums:P1060456 sunset sq2

And now the garden full of early evening sunshine plus a few roof glimpses:

Roof Squares

 

Last Night In Downtown Oakengates, Looking For Roofs, Real Ale, And Having A Slight Fit Of The Edward Hoppers

Just in case you think Shropshire is all ‘blue remembered hills’, we do have our urban quarters. Oakengates in Telford (New Town) to the east of the county has ancient roots. The Romans came marching through these parts in their bid to quell the Welsh, leaving us the remains of a military fort – that’s to say an on-the-hoof marcher camp (nicely squared earthen ramparts reduced to a field crop mark). Then there was a lot of monkish settlement (physical evidence obliterated), but it was during the C19th that the town truly came to prominence and prosperity, its coal and clay deposits making it one of the key settlements of Shropshire’s Industrial Revolution.

Since then, though, the once traditional street scene has somehow had its heart ripped out. Well, mostly. There are still some good old pubs. In particular the  Crown InnTHE watering hole for real ale lovers, and the place where we were heading last night to meet good chum Andy. And just by chance I had taken my camera, and I was struck by the evening light, and the strangely compelling surrealism of the streets that someone had kindly tried to prettify with bunting, and there were a few rooftops too and I had that feeling that I get when I look at Edward Hopper’s paintings: a spinal twinge of fascinated  displacement and disquiet (for his work is nothing if not about light and shadow in all connotations) – hence this set of photos, taken before and after a glass of good Mild Ale…

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Roof Squares

Of Sunset Over The Rooftops From The Allotment And Much Toiling On The Plot (As In Gardening Not Writing)

All of a sudden we’re having summer here in Shropshire, and it’s a case of catch-up at the allotment – not only with the jobs that could not be done over the cold, wet thrice snowy winter, but also trying to keep up with spring-sown plants that are romping every which way and need to be put somewhere. The ‘somewhere’ inevitably needs more preparation than I’d realised, and more digging than I’d hoped to do, given my no-dig pipe dream objectives. I’m beginning to think our Silurian Clag really needs total soil replacement – as in complete interment by a foot of decent loamy earth. And if that’s down to me, then that means making humungous quantities of compost. It could take years.

Yesterday I did five solid hours of labouring under the sun. The new plot by the polytunnel was alive with bee-hum. The bees were whizzing by with such greedy intent among the raspberry flowers, I could actually feel the air move as they passed me. Bbbzzzzzzzzoom. And then the birds were singing their hearts out – loud, louder, loudest – especially the blackbirds. Which reminded me to put netting over the strawberries. I ate my first sun-warmed strawberry yesterday – the best strawberry of all – that first one.

The five hours slipped away. Gardener’s time is of course quite different from everyone else’s. He Who Waits At The Farrell Establishment never knows when supper is happening. Also when I do decide to head for home the light is usually so diverting that I have to start taking photos. Besides, the raggedy old allotments are a wonderful place to be at sundown – when you have put the spade away and shut up the shed – the wide views over Wenlock; the scents of growing; the quietness of plants.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Roof Squares #4

On the Path To Harakopio ~ The Putative Roof

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I’ve had a passion for pantiles since childhood when they appeared in a storybook I was reading. The story was set in Spain, and I have absolutely no memory of what it was about. Only the pantiles stuck. Once I had discovered what they were, and that they were made of terracotta, and so were red like clay flower pots, and nothing like the boring, dun-coloured slates on my own house, they gave me my first magical sense of ‘the foreign’ – of lands and peoples beyond my island. But perhaps more than that, they suggested new horizons, and new possibilities; only in my imagination though. My family was not one that ‘went abroad’.

And so this pile of tiles simply had to be recorded on our walk to the supermarket in Harakopio. It is hard to say whether they are leftovers from a past project and thus spares for an existing roof, or if they are a roof in-waiting. Or being Greece, if they are simply there, stacked up under an olive tree.

Here’s an actual Harakopio village roof: interesting compilation of new and old.

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And a roof with a very nice datura, the spitting image of the one I once planted in my front garden in Nairobi, bought from a roadside nurseryman.

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For more of the walk in words and pix see On the path to Harakopio

Roof Squares #3 Now over to Becky

Greek Tortoise ~ Own Roof, Will Travel

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The path to Peroulia Beach from Harakopio takes you down winding lanes and through olive groves. On one such expedition we met a tortoise. A fine specimen it was too and so, still with notions of living roofs in mind, I’m posting it for today’s offering at Becky’s month of roof photos. And also for Debbie’s 6WS.

June Squares: roofs

Six Word Saturday

A Laburnum Roof?

Becky has kicked off her June spree of roof shots in square format with a view of Kew. I’d also been thinking of roofs in a garden setting, so here’s a tiny segment of the Laburnum Arch at Arley Arboretum as seen a couple of weeks ago. At 65 metres, it is the longest Britain. But where, you might be asking, are the flowers, the golden cascade thronging with bee-hum. Sorry to say we were a week early. The flowers were only just coming out. Not only that, it seems we walked down the arch the wrong way. The intention of the recent extension being to bring you to a spectacular view over the Severn Valley. Pretty much like this one, or so I imagine. Anyway, I enjoyed looking up into the  tracery of entwining boughs – which would not of course be visible if the flowers were out. Always good to find a silver lining in the absence of gold.

Please pop over to Becky’s for more June Roof Squares:

June Squares

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