Last coracle maker's shed saved thanks to six-figure lottery grant
The last coracle maker's shed in England will be saved thanks a £333,000 grant from the National Lottery.
The Ironbridge Coracle Trust has been given the money, which will make sure the shed, on the bank of the River Severn in Ironbridge, will be stabilised, repaired and established as a visitor attraction.
Cash will also be used on a programme of activities over three years and work on the trust's new building at the Greenwood Centre.
The coracle shed dates from the 1920s and was owned by the Rogers family until the death of Eustace Rogers in 2003.
It was used by Eustace, his father and grandfather before him, for building Ironbridge Coracles.
In recognition of the importance of the shed and coracle making to Ironbridge, the trust appointed Messenger, experienced conservation contractors, to carry out the works to improve the structural integrity of the shed and ensure its survival for years to come.
Peep holes will be formed in the wall close to the public footpath which will allow visitors to look through and see images of life of a coracle maker using a Victorian stage lighting trick called The Pepper’s Ghost effect.
Terry Kenny, chairman of the Ironbridge Coracle Trust, said: "Thanks to the support of players of the National Lottery we have the opportunity to really tell the story of the coracle's place in Ironbridge through the conservation of the coracle shed, an exciting programme of activities and imaginative interpretation within the new Coracle Stories shed and the creation of the coracle trail."
Anne Jenkins, director for the National Lottery – England, Midlands and East, said: “The coracle makers of Ironbridge are integral to the heritage of the area, and this important project will ensure that their stories and legacies are not lost to future generations.
"We’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players will enable the safeguarding of the craft and its history and allow young people to discover more about their local heritage.”
Councillor Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for the World Heritage Site, said: “This is fantastic news and a real testimony to the hard work of the Ironbridge Coracle Trust. It has been a privilege to support them in their work to preserve such an important part of our community’s history’’
Works will begin on site at the end of January and are expected to take three months. The conservation of the coracle shed forms part of the larger Ironbridge Coracle Project.
Alongside the conservation of the shed, the Ironbridge Coracle Trust will also work to document and record some of the memories of those who knew the last coracle men.