Shropshire Star

'Perfect fit' as Oswestry Ironworks hosts Mini Cooper gathering

A gathering of Mini Coopers has provided a welcome boost for a popular tourist attraction.

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Hundreds of Minis from the Wirral Mini Owners Club converge on the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry. From Shrewsbury, five-year-old Tommy Barlow.

The British Ironwork Centre and Shropshire Sculpture Park in Oswestry has suffered at the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, as many other businesses have.

Chairman of the park, Clive Knowles, said: “We are emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have been hit extraordinarily hard by it. Visitor numbers are down, patrons, members, coach trips and group numbers are all down, and we are keen to start increasing those numbers again.

"So we started reaching out on social media to clubs and groups, with a view to hosting events here.”

Liam Gardner gets a closer look

The Mini Car Club was originally set to hold their meeting in Llandudno, but with Wales having more stringent Covid-19 restrictions than England, they got in touch with the sculpture park.

Clive added: “It all happened at short notice, within about three or four weeks, and they asked if we could accommodate two or three hundred Minis.

“The range from the classic British built original cars right up to the modern BMW Minis.”

Joseph Wakefield with his 1999 Mini Cooper

For Clive and everyone at the sculpture park, the gathering of the iconic British motors at the British Ironwork centre is a perfect fit.

He added: “For a club of British cars to meet here at the British Ironwork Centre, it is a great synergy. It was easy for us to welcome them, and easy for them to ask. It is just a perfect fit.

“Its been exhausting running around left and right its a big site to run around. So many Minis turned out, I am so relieved to get through the day, we had no rain and everybody has left safe and happy, and we are hoping to invite them back and do it again next year.

Looking for room for a small dog

“It’s a mixture of delight and exhaustion. We don’t charge for hosting, and we need these sort of events to keep us ticking over until things normalise again.”

In addition, the sculpture park trialled a drive-through tour of the exhibits, as a way to allow people who are concerned about the pandemic to see the works without leaving their vehicles.

Mark Steward, chair of the Wirral Mini Owners Club added: “We have raised £1300 for charity. Ironically, Wales has changed the rules, and we could have visited Llandudno, but we are delighted that we decided to rearrange the venue.”

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