To round off PLACE’s summer theme of “The Victorians”, we booked from 1st-5th September the whole of the Coalbrookdale Youth Hostel, which is located in the Ironbridge region of Shropshire. Built in 1853 as a literary and scientific institute by the Coalbrookdale Company, this beautiful Victorian building was used as a school of art before becoming a Youth Hostel in 1980. The building has been converted inside to provide thoroughly modern facilities perfect for youngsters (YHA Ironbridge Coalbrookdale has been awarded the Quality Badge by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom).
Set in the delightful Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Coalbrookdale Hostel provides an ideal base for exploration and learning. There is history every way you look – including ten museums in close proximity, most of which attended during our stay. We explored Victorian Britain in Blists Hill Victorian Town, where we were transported back to life in the late 1800’s, with townsfolk in period costume going about their daily lives, shopping and working. There is a Victorian bank on site – which exchanges modern coinage for Victorian legal tender to spend around the town, for example to pay for fair rides or to purchase freshly-baked cinnamon or currant buns at the on-site Victorian bakery. There is a chemist; grocer; tailor; photographer; squatter’s cottage; schoolhouse; steam-operated pithead; to name but a few. PLACE’s families had a chance to try their hand in the soap-making workshop as part of the day’s agenda; whilst at the China Museum, there was a clay workshop included in the itinerary. On another day, the group took a stroll to the 200-year-old Tar Tunnel. The structure that gives the area its name, the Iron Bridge itself, is a “must-see”. Particularly attractive for science and design students was the “Enginuity” Museum, which which allowed us to see how ideas become designs and eventually products, all in an interactive and engaging way.