Shropshire Star

New life for old coracle shed slipway after 70 years

Works are due to start next week on restoring the slipway behind Ironbridge's Old Coracle Shed.

Harry Rogers on the slipway, which is soon to be restored. Photo: Ironbridge Coracle Trust

Thanks to a funding boost from the People's Postcode Lottery, works to reconnect the Old Coracle Shed to the river for the first time in over 70 years will start next week.

Over the decades the slipway behind the shed had become buried unter 1.5 metres of silt. During recent works to restore the shed, the silt was removed, revealing the almost intact brick slipway.

Mary Lewis, chair of the Coracle Trust, said: "We are very excited that another part of the heritage of coracles in the Gorge can be not only be conserved but will brought back into regular use.

"The use of coracles in Ironbridge pre-dates the more famous bridge. We are very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support."

The bowl shaped craft made from wood and covered with a waterproofed membrane have been a central part of Ironbridge life for centuries.

Traditionally, coracles were used for transport, fishing and even poaching - the tiny, quiet boats were perfect for creeping up on unsuspecting prey.

During the 1800s, Ironbridge boasted a band of poachers with names like Big Neddy, Little Neddy, Hellfire Jack and Gunnar Bodin, who used coracles to poach rabbits and salmon.

Built over 100 years ago, the old shed is a hidden treasure, located right next to the world-famous Iron Bridge.

It has had many uses over the years, including coracle making. After standing empty for many years it has now been restored as a museum to help conserve the history of coracle making in the Gorge.