Master's report on Ironbridge weekend
7th to 9th June 2019
Since taking over as Master, many Past Masters had said to me, 'Don't miss Ironbridge - it's a great weekend' so our expectations were high, Even so, the organisation, learning experience and sheer enjoyment still blew us away!
I did not know, prior to this visit, how thoroughly this area spearheaded Britain's Industrial Revolution, with the first iron foundries and ironworks at Coalbrookdale, (the first to smelt iron with coke), ceramics at Coalport and the first uses of industrial steam power. All this founded, of course on the unique geography, giving copious amounts of coal, clay, ironstone and limestone. The River Severn around which the area is situated clearly provided the transport mechanism as well as the geography.
This site of intense Industrial Archaeology, is not justifiably a World Heritage Site.
Our visit took in the foundries, the china museum, the museum of iron and Blists Hill, a perfectly preserved Victorian Town (pictured) with period shops and houses populated by guides in period dress. Of course the highlight of the tours, was the Ironbridge itself (pictured) the world's first iron bridge built in 1779.
Our weekend with an informal dinner on the Friday, and a Black Tie dinner and ball on the Saturday gave us ample opportunity to renew our acquaintance with many Master's of other Liveries, and to meet and make friends with many new ones.
An innovation this year, before the informal dinner, from a suggestion by the Lord mayor and organised by The Livery Committee, was a working session with attendees split into small groups to debate strengths and weaknesses of the Livery Movement, and what can be done to minimise risks to our futures. One key conclusion was to put in place a sustained effort to create some better 'Brand Awareness' of what the Livery movement stood for and it's purpose. Too many of the members experienced the first reaction from strangers at mention of the Livery Movement as the comment 'Oh is it something to do with horses?'.
All in all a very enjoyable and worthwhile weekend.