We crossed the Severn from Jackfield via a footbridge that was built as a memorial to soldiers lost in WWI. There was a system of canals to connect the mines with the river and with the furnaces. This is the lower level canal at Coalsport.
The upper canal from Blists Hill enabled access to the Hay Inclined Plane, a rail system that moved the canal boats between the upper and lower canals. The upper canal, which no longer has water at this location, fed this entry structure.
Workmen maneuvered boats onto the rails and used a steam engine to lower them down the incline. There were always two boats – one going up, one down to operate as counter-weights – a canal boat funicular!
There were mines throughout the area. We saw some 'tracks" inset into a stone dock earlier. This particular adit shows a different style of old metal track. The flange that keeps the carts on the metal track is built into the track, rather than the wheels, and can be seen on the inner side of the tracks.
A junction of similar tracks plus a cart with the plain narrow wheels that runs on such a track.
Nowadays the flange is on the wheels as seen here, but that isn't what really keeps the train on the rails; it is the conical shape of the wheel. See this explanation by Richard Feynman.
I promise this is the last picture of RR tracks!
This one is called the Trevithick Locomotive. According to the Ironbridge Museum, it was the first railway locomotive in the world. It was built by the Coalbrookdale ironworks in 1802. This is a replica.
It was possible to get tours of the village using this traditional one-horsepower conveyance.
The horse carts were superseded by the steam engine, which can be seen in the background, and they have both been largely superseded by more modern technology. Steam engines are now limited largely to hobbyists and tourists. Horses still have an active industrial contribution on some farms and logging operations where more modern equipment may not be as efficient. As one rancher says: the horses always start, no matter how cold it is.
The decorative style of these engines shows that their makers weren't strictly utilitarian.
The beams that ran off the cylinders shown in this picture were very, very long.
We tried to extend our stay in Ironbridge by another day since there was much we had not seen in the two days allotted, but our B&B had already booked our room. Another item on our list of places to revisit.
On our way from Ironbridge to London, we decided to drive through the Vale of the White Horse. There are several white horses carved into nearby hillsides, but this one, the Uffington White Horse, is the oldest by far. It dates to the Bronze Age. Click the link to see how the horse looks from the air. Why was the horse constructed? Theories abound, but no one knows.
The low hill to the left of the picture is called Dragon Hill. Local legend has it that this is where St. George slew the dragon. The dragon's blood, so it is said, prevents grass from ever growing on the spot where he (she?) died. Except that St. George lived (if he lived) & died in Asia Minor.
Here is another view of the horse. The bowl is called "the manger" and there is a legend that once each year the horse goes down to graze.
The outlines of the figure take regular maintenance. If the grass weren't cleared away from the chalk fill, it would soon grow over it and hide the figure. As best can be told, this figure has been maintained continuously for over 3,000 years!
The ancient hill fort of Uffington Castle is close by the white horse.
This was our last stop before continuing on to our hotel at Heathrow.
Both the World Religions portion of the trip and our own ramblings rank with our favorite excursions.
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