New book comes with free lump of Ironbridge Power Station

Bridgnorth historian Clive Gwilt is offering an unusual free gift as he launches his latest book – a piece of the old Ironbridge Power Station.

Clive by Bridgnorth Town Hall with his latest book.
Clive by Bridgnorth Town Hall with his latest book.

Clive will be giving away bits of the cooling towers at his book signing event for 'A History of Bridgnorth by Dates,' a 640 page magnum opus which has been 55 years in the making.

Clive by Bridgnorth Town Hall with his latest book.

"Everyone visiting will be able to take away a free part of Shropshire’s history, as I have many pieces of the old Ironbridge cooling towers that were recently demolished," says Clive.

"I organised two sackfuls of the pink Ironbridge cooling towers off the demolition company and anyone who comes to the event can get a piece free whether they buy my book or not."

The book is dedicated to his late mother Barbara who was tragically killed in a road accident in Bridgnorth in September as she crossed the road near Sainsbury's.

A History of Bridgnorth by Dates by Clive Gwilt.

The signing event is on January 29 in the historic Masonic function room at the Crown Inn in High Street, Bridgnorth, from 10am until 4pm.

"It has taken me over 55 years to compile all the historical dates from hundreds of sources," says Clive, who is 63.

The Riverside by Edward Goodwin, dating from 1806.

"The book is 640 pages and ranges from the Neolithic period to 2021. It includes every date I have ever come across and includes detailed accounts of the foundation of the town, events, buildings, wars, and bombs, all in chronological date order.

"There are over 40 pictures and paintings, some of which have never been published before, including Paul Sandby’s interpretation of Bridgnorth Castle and Hitler’s rare map."

Clive believes this wartime German military map shows that Hitler intended to use Bridgnorth as his Midland base.

The wartime German map, Clive believes, shows that Hitler wanted to make Bridgnorth his Midland base in the event of a successful invasion of Britain.

"Bridgnorth Historic Society will also be on hand with some of the 6th and 7th century Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard found on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border and other interesting items and new members will be welcome to join.

"Most of my other books and leaflets will be available and 23 historic boards with local history will be on display to read and many other documents."

Bomb damage in Church Street, Bridgnorth, during the Blitz.

Clive's interest in the town's history started in his early childhood years.

"I wrote 'A History of Bridgnorth Town Hall' while at St Mary’s School on the Grove for a school teacher, probably about 1972.

"I also started compiling history while living in Queens Road when I was five years old. One evening four RAF squaddies took a short cut through our garden at Lodge Farm to the Grove shops. My father Leslie obtained their names and the next day we both went to the RAF camp at Stanmore and told the duty sergeant so they wouldn’t break our fence anymore.

"He showed us around the camp and I can still remember being sat in one of the gate guardian planes on the camp.

"My next encounter with local history was at St Mary’s School on the Grove when Mr Mike Kenworthy (the teacher) was teaching us about the Town Hall being a barn from Much Wenlock. I was excited about this and the following weekend had a look with my mother.

"From the age of 12 – that is, in 1970 – I worked every Saturday at S S Cranes in the High Street plucking, gutting and eventually serving in the shop. During my time there I wrote a book on the owner Mr Samuel Slade Crane. I was asked to become a director of the company but declined the offer to join BP as a navigational officer.

"I joined the Merchant Navy in July 1986 and progressed through the ranks to 2nd Officer before taking redundancy and joining the district council.

"During my time on board the BP tankers and on leave I constantly researched Bridgnorth’s history and wrote about 30 books on the town. My first one was completed in 1981 – 'A Visitors’ Guide to Bridgnorth' for the town council."

Clive has since written dozens of further books and pamphlets about aspects of the town's history.

"I never seem to stop and devote much of my spare time to others and promoting the town. Whether it’s a street plan of the town, school project, or old RAF personnel, I am always willing to assist."

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