After lots of planning, sweeping and tidying, we opened up our historic canal yard at Ellesmere in Shropshire over the weekend of 14th-15th September to help celebrate Heritage Open Days, with blacksmith Rowan Taylor demonstrating his skills.
The annual event takes place across England and provides the chance for the public to visit some wonderful historic buildings which are normally closed to the public. This year over 4500 events took place across England. Alongside Ellesmere Yard, over fifty buildings were open across Shropshire ranging from churches to a banqueting tower and even Shrewsbury Prison.
The site is a very well preserved example of a canal maintenance yard dating from the early 1800s. The range of grade II* listed buildings includes a blacksmith and joiners shop, dry dock, a yard manager’s house and Beech House the former head offices of the Ellesmere Canal Company. Today the yard is the operating base for the waterway teams that look after the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals.
This year’s event is particularly special as, after repair works to the forge funded by Shropshire Council, Ellesmere Town Council, a Canal & River Trust launch appeal, we now have a heritage conservation trained blacksmith, Rowan Taylor, who has taken on an initial twelve month lease on the forge. Jack Strange the last blacksmith to work the forge retired around thirty years ago and the building has been very quiet since then. It is very exciting to see the forge relit, bringing the building back to life. Rowan was able to demonstrate his skills to around 400 people who braved the weather to visit the site over the open weekend.
We wish him every success with his new business. As well as his own commissions, we hope that, in time, he will be able to work with us to repair some of our heritage structures as Jack and his forebears used to do.
Kate Lynch, Heritage Advisor for North Wales & Border and Part of Manchester & Pennine
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from this author