New exhibition in Ironbridge unlocks secrets of River Severn

A conservation project in Ironbridge is helping to unlock the secrets of the River Severn as a wild watery highway for rare fish.

Alex Ball, senior project manager at the Canal & River Trust views the exhibition
Alex Ball, senior project manager at the Canal & River Trust views the exhibition

In a new exhibition launched on Wednesday, visitors are given an insight into the underwater world hidden beneath the river’s surface. The attraction focuses on the twaite shad, an endangered fish, and the story of its epic River Severn migration.

Suitable for families and accessible for disabled visitors, it has been created by Unlocking the Severn – a conservation and river engagement group which hopes visitors will dive in and discover more in the gallery adjacent to the Jackfield Tile Museum.

WATCH: See inside the exhibition

Alongside graphic panels telling the shad’s story there are two commissioned short films to watch, including a new animation about the journey the shad make up the River Severn in search of their freshwater spawning grounds.

The event design is Covid-secure with no need to touch any displays, but aims to retain an interactive feeling through the floor map which guides visitors around the displays while teaching them how to do the “shad spawning dance”.

Alex Ball, senior project manager at the Canal & River Trust views the exhibition

Alex Ball, senior project manager, said: “We hope this exhibition will provide a chance to change people’s perspective, viewing this powerful river through the eyes of a small fish, swimming up from the sea, trying to get past large weirs to reach good spawning habitats. We hope visitors will be inspired to plan a visit to the new underwater viewing window at Worcester’s Diglis fish pass when it opens.”

As part of the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to consider how they can help care for the river and its wildlife, either through individual action or being inspired to join collective volunteering efforts.

Unlocking the Severn is a conservation and river engagement project led by the Canal & River Trust, and partners the Severn Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the European Union LIFE Nature Programme.

The exhibition is open in The Footprint Gallery at Fusion, next to Jackfield Tile Museum, from 10am to 4pm until February 28, 2021.

It will then visit The Hive, Worcester in May and June 2021 before moving to Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery next summer.

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