Visitor viewing the Coracle Stories exhibition

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About

Ironbridge New Coracle Shed

The New Coracle Shed is a FREE community museum containing the Coracle Stories exhibition which tells the fascinating tales of the Ironbridge Coracle men and women and the very long tradition of coracles in Ironbridge.

Eustace Rogers, the last of the Ironbridge coracle men died in 2003. He left the Old Coracle Shed where he and many generations of his family worked. It is right next to the world-famous Iron Bridge at the very centre of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

Coracles are a form of boat which has been made and used since prehistoric times all over the world. The Old Shed is the last coracle maker’s shed in England. You can see a glimpse of their working life by looking through the window. Many of the tools, nets, strange puppets and coracles can now be seen in the New Coracle Shed which is at the Green Wood Centre at the other end of Ironbridge along the Coracle Trail. 

The Coracle Trail is a very pleasant 20 minute walk along the river.  Starting at the Old Shed, this walk takes you past the Iron Bridge, along the Wharfage and the Coracle Man sculpture. Turning onto Station Rd – shortly after the Ironbridge Co-op, Teddy bear factory and the Ironbridge Antiques Centre, you come to the Green Wood Centre and the New Coracle Shed.

The Coracle Stories exhibition was created to tell the extraordinary stories of the coracle men, including flying witches and wheelbarrows, poaching, poverty, humour and the ancient craft of coracles. 

The exhibition was designed as if Eustace and his father Harry had made it themselves in the 1950s. They were a very ingenious pair, very much loved and respected by the people of Ironbridge. They loved nothing less than to spend an hour or two telling visitors stories of river life, poaching and the hard life people in Ironbridge experienced between the wars.

They were also always happy to have a laugh. With Jack Gears, a friend of theirs, they made and ‘flew’ extraordinary puppets across the river. Amongst these were a witch, a unicyclist, two foundry men and a wheelbarrow. The Coracle Stories exhibition has several of the original puppets and some working replicas. It also contains a Glass Shed with many of the tools and curios which were in the Old Shed which they called their Old Curiosity Shop. 

Local artists have contributed lovely working models which help explain the role of coracles in the social history of the Gorge and across the world. The exhibition is designed to appeal to old and young. A children’s animated story of Colin (the dog) in a Coracle can be viewed while sitting in a small coracle. Coracle Run 1779 is an interactive game which lets you ‘have a go’ in a coracle in 1779 as Jack goes on a poaching mission along the river. There are also several old films of them talking about life in Ironbridge between the wars. 

Poaching was a common and necessary activity when it was hard getting food on the table. A band of poachers after the First World War had wonderful names such as Gunner Boden, Hellfire Jack, Dick the Keen-un and The Major. They risked prison sentences of seven and eight years for catching wild rabbits or fish from the river. It was a risk they needed to take to put food on the table but many of them did spend long periods in prison.

Visit the New Coracle Shed, The Old Shed and Coracle Trail to hear and see the whole entertaining and informative story.

The Ironbridge Coracle Trust was set up to preserve the skills and social history of coracles in Ironbridge. It runs the New Shed, the Old Shed, and Sculpture with community volunteers. It also runs the annual Ironbridge Coracle Regatta.  Originally funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Arts Council the Trust now runs as a charity offering free access to all its sites. It is developing more ways of getting hands on with a coracle or even making your own. Check the web site for opportunities.

Recent visitor reviews: 

Fascinating – a lost way of life brought alive again.

What a brilliant museum – grandchildren aged three and seven loved it. Really interesting.

Compelling but tiny. The Guardian 2022

One of the coolest little exhibitions I have seen in England. 

 

Guide Prices

The New Coracle Shed is a free community museum. There may not always be volunteers to give you more information. You can come in anyway. Please make sure you close the door after you leave.

Facilities

Accessibility

  • Accessible parking
  • Accessible toilets
  • Age friendly
  • All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors
  • Guide Dogs Permitted
  • Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
  • Ramp / Level Access
  • Wheelchair accessible

Catering

  • On-Site café/restaurant
  • Picnic Site

Parking & Transport

  • On site parking
  • Parking (free)

Provider Facilities

  • Dog Friendly
  • Dogs Accepted
  • Group Friendly
  • Toilets

Provider Features

  • Indoor Attraction
  • No Smoking Attraction

Target Markets

  • Family Fun
  • Marketed Towards Children
  • Marketed Towards Families
  • Marketed Towards Senior Citizens
  • Marketed Towards Students / Youth

Tours and Demonstrations

  • Educational Visits Accepted

Map & Directions

Road Directions

The Green Wood Centre has a very small car part, so it is best to park at Dale End Park car park (TF8 7NJ) and walk up Station Rd. The postcode of the New Coracle Shed is TF8 7QQf

Public Transport Directions

It is best to walk to the New Coracle Shed in the Green Wood Centre. Pick up a leaflet in local shops or the Museum of the Gorge information centre.

Ironbridge New Coracle Shed

Type:Museum

Station Road, Green Wood Centre, Coalbrookdale, TELFORD, Shropshire, TF8 7DR

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