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Brilliant sunshine and boating fun at Ironbridge Coracle Regatta - in pictures

Ironbridge | Telford entertainment | Published:

The Ironbridge Gorge was filled with dozens of the peculiar circular boats it became famous for while spectators packed the riverbanks, at the latest Ironbridge Coracle Regatta.

The Ironbridge Coracle Regatta

Blazing bank holiday sun meant that even those who became unstuck from the tricky boats while racing and fell into the river didn't mind too much.

The popular event centred on Ironbridge Rowing Club and was organised by the Ironbridge Coracle Trust and the Small Woods Association.

People came from across the UK bearing their own home-made boats to compete in off-beat races for all ages, while a mini festival that included traditional sideshows sprung up nearby to keep everyone fed, watered and entertained.

The summery soundtrack of live ukulele music and burgers sizzling on the grill was punctuated periodically by a starting gun signalling the start of the frantic coracle races.

There were categories for all levels of ability, and anyone brave enough to take on a coracle could hire a boat for £1 and give it a go.

Cheating

Telford residents Cheryl Fellows and Miles Chambers visited for the afternoon.

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Cheryl said: "I live just in Horsehay. We come most years for the bank holiday regatta.

"It's been beautiful but most years we've been here it's been absolutely scorching. They seem to be really lucky with it most years.

"It's pretty standard fare as it is every year, lots of people falling in. I like the bit where they get the novices to have a go, that's always the most amusing.

"They're tricky things to ride in. They usually do team races and I always enjoy watching those because they really are competitive – they do cheat really badly!

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"It's nice, it's great for kids and it's just a nice way to spend an afternoon."

Miles said: "It's good they do it every year and they always get a good turnout like this, which is good for the effort they put in."

Groups from the gorge pulled together to help the event run smoothly, and Graham Peet of the Ironbridge Coracle Trust spent the day enthusing to visitors about the famous coracle-making Rogers family of Ironbridge. The last Rogers, Eustace, died in 2003.

Volunteers from the Ironbridge & Severn Gorge Lions coordinated the parking down by the river, and also ran a tombola stall.

Beauty of the river

Catherine Sargeant is a vice-captain at Ironbridge Rowing Club, whose members worked flat-out selling burgers and beer to spectators and sailors alike.

She said: "We do this every year with the coracle guys, it's obviously their event but we are happy to support because it's great to bring people down to the river.

"It's brilliant because we're that bit further up from the wharfage itself for people to be able to come and walk through the length of it and appreciate the beauty of the river and everything that we've got here."

The club hosts its own regatta every summer, but this year's had to be cancelled for the first time in years because of high water levels.

It will return next year for the rowing club's 150th anniversary, and the committee are appealing for people who have old memories or documents relating to the club's history to come forward and contact 01952 432798 or ironbridgerowingclub@gmail.com

To learn more about the Rogers family and Ironbridge's connections to coracles, visit www.coracleshed.org. To volunteer with the coracle trust, call Graham Peet on 07855956089.

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