Close cookies panel

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience.

If you continue, we'll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website.

Ironbridge and Blists Hill: legacies of Shropshire’s not-so-peaceful past

Posted by Jonathan Broom on 31 October 2018
Related property: Upper Norton
Ironbridge and Blists Hill: legacies of Shropshire’s not-so-peaceful past

To holiday at Upper Norton is not to step back in time, exactly – the place is firmly in the 21st Century in terms of comfort, furnishings and equipment – but to sojourn in a place that feels timeless. Unchanging. Ludlow, Sir John Betjeman’s “loveliest town in England”, is as quaint and welcoming now as when the late Poet Laureate first described it so. The rolling, unspoiled countryside surrounding the site has looked that way for aeons; and, you get the feeling, will continue to look that way for aeons to come. Upper Norton is a peaceful place, a haven where you can put your feet up and let the world carry on without you, just for a while.

Bucolic Britain at its best, then. But a century or two ago, not far to the north of Upper Norton, was a region in the grip of industrialisation.

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries made Great Britain the “workshop of the world” – and by the mid-1800s the United Kingdom was the leading commercial nation on the planet: sourcing raw materials (many from its colonies); processing those materials in ever-improving ways as technology advanced at breakneck speed; and selling the finished products back to a waiting world.

Manufacture was regionalised. Lancashire, for example, became famous for its textiles. Staffordshire for its potteries. And mid to north Shropshire for its ironworks.

The heyday of Shropshire’s iron industry is long past; but it has left a visible, and in parts beautiful, legacy.

You cannot visit Upper Norton without making a trip – a pilgrimage, for lovers of industrial history – to Ironbridge: a beautiful (one-word) village that’s home to the (two words) Iron Bridge that spans the River Severn at the (one-word) Ironbridge Gorge. Opened in 1781, the Iron Bridge was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. Its design, featuring a high single span to allow for tall ships to pass underneath, owed more to expediency than aesthetics. But the result (below) was, and remains, an absolute show-stopper.

About 2½ miles further on is Blists Hill, originally an industrial region consisting of a brick and tile works, blast furnaces and coal, iron and fired-clay foundries. Today Blists Hill is an open-air museum modelled on, and incorporating elements of, a Victorian town; and attempts to recreate the sights, sounds and atmosphere of a Shropshire settlement in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. An amalgam, the museum’s buildings fall into one of three categories: buildings that were already part of the industrial site; buildings that represent a generic type; and original buildings that have been relocated to the museum.

When you arrive, head for the bank, where you’ll exchange your 21st-Century money for some good old-fashioned LSD. (That’s short for Librae, Solidi, Denarii, and was banking and book-keeping terminology for pounds, shillings and pence.) It’s sobering when you see just how few shiny coins a modern £20 note will buy you. But when you leave Blists Hill you can change it back. What’s left of it.

And then sally forth to enjoy what the town has to offer. No cars. No TV. But lots of shops, staffed by boys and girls in real period clothes, where you can actually buy things. A fantastic fish-&-chip shop:

a sweetshop:

an old-fashioned chemist:

a smithy:

a leather-workshop:

a tea-room:

and a proper pub:

No jukebox, obviously, but you can play shove-ha’penny and bar skittles, and a pint (from memory) costs about 3d.

And much more.

And in pride of place, a proper working ironworks (pictured at top), where you can watch the foundrymen pouring and shaping the molten metal, and get an inkling of the heat, noise and smells that were once a backdrop to everyday ife in this part of Shropshire.

Blists Hill is part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, a registered educational charity whose collection of 10 museums collectively tell the story of Ironbridge and the area around it. To find out more about Blists Hill, click here.

Blists Hill lies about 22 miles to the north-east of Upper Norton, via the B4368, the B4378, the B4376 and the B4373 (be sure to stop at Ironbridge on the way). At the time of writing, entrance to the museum is £17.95 for adults, £12.70 for over-60s and £10.90 for children aged five to 16. Under-fives are free.

Share this post:
Jonathan Broom

Jonathan Broom

How can I find out more?

The Holiday Property Bond could do as much for your quality of life as it has done for many thousands of families who have already invested. That's why we invite you to get in touch with us in any of these 3 ways and please don't forget our unique 'Money back promise' and 'interest free loan' options.


We're so confident you'll be delighted with HPB
that we offer you a 'Money Back Promise'!

In regular surveys, Bondholders tell us how happy they are with HPB holidays. That's why we feel confident in giving you the extra reassurance of our unprecedented 'Money Back Promise':

If you take your first HPB holiday within three years of investing and are not, for any reason, entirely happy, you can apply to cash in your HPB investment within 14 days of your return. Whatever the encashment value, the parent company of the issuer of HPB will make up any difference so that you get back the full amount of your original payment, including charges.

This offer applies to a holiday at any HPB owned property which is taken by at least one of the Bondholders themselves.

Full details of the offer will be provided before you invest.

Request our brochure Speak to a representative Visit an Open Day or Exhibition

Please request our fully
illustrated brochure

Please read "How HPB works" and then we will be delighted to send you our brochure, including our property portfolio, along with our full length DVD introduced by Bondholder Sue Barker and a list of forthcoming Open Days and Exhibitions. See the beautiful holiday homes and magnificent locations where you can spend your holidays as a Bondholder.

Please complete and submit the form or,
alternatively, telephone our FREE brochure request line on 0800 230 0391

Request a brochure
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address  
Postcode *  
Telephone number
How did you hear about us?

We will use the details you provide above to send you our detailed HPB brochure and keep you updated about HPB holiday offers.

* Indicates required fields

You can speak to one of our representatives

Your local HPB representative will be happy to call or meet you at a convenient time and place for an informal chat. Simply fill in your details and we'll do the rest.

Most of our representatives are Bondholders themselves and all have visited a number of Bond sites.

The representative will give you all the information you need and then leave you to make up your own mind. He or she will talk to you about your holiday requirements and what level of investment is needed to secure the kind of holidays you want.

Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address  
Telephone number *  
Post code
iBy giving us your post code we can find a representative near you.
How did you hear about us?
Your message

One of our representatives will contact you using the information above.

* Indicates required fields

See our stunning properties
for yourself

Attending an Open Day at an HPB holiday location is an enjoyable way to see what HPB has to offer. Just turn up and stay as long as you wish – there is no need to make an appointment. The representatives will introduce themselves and answer your questions. You will also be invited to inspect the site and see HPB’s high standards for yourself.

Alternatively, you are welcome to attend one of our Exhibitions at a hotel near you. You can chat to one of our representatives, ask your questions and watch our complete DVD 'travelogue' of HPB locations.


This advertisement is issued by HPB Management Limited ("HPBM") registered at HPB House, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8EH. HPBM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is the main UK agent and the property manager for HPB, issued by HPB Assurance Limited ("HPBA") registered in the Isle of Man and authorised by the Financial Services Authority there. The Trustee of HPB is HSBC Trustee (C.I.) Limited registered at HSBC House, Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey, JE1 1GT. The Securities Manager is Stanhope Capital LLP of 35 Portman Square, London, W1H 6LR.

Holders of policies issued by HPBA will not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the company becomes unable to meet its liabilities to them but Isle of Man compensation arrangements apply to new policies. No medical examination required. HPB is available exclusively through HPBM who will only charge for their services if you invest. HPBM promotes only HPB and is not independent of HPBA.

AS FEATURED IN The Telegraph BBC Daily Mail The Sunday Times