British Ironworks Centre
Locales > Shropshire
British Ironworks Park was a farm until a guy called Clive Knowles bought it and persuaded his family to move there. Ever the entrepreneur he bought some sculptures and then transformed it into a tourist attraction – ignoring little things like planning permission according to the local press.
The place is strange with iron sculptures of various animals scattered around. There are elephants, spiders, scorpions and bulls not to mention gorillas in all sorts of colours. They are all available to buy with prices from a few hundred to several thousand – all made to order. There are also gazebos and other iron outside buildings. The centre has a series of industrial units made out of formed steel panels (we call them crinkly tin buildings). One set of units houses a café and small niches full of objet d'arts most of which are extremely tacky. Another set of units seems to house various small enterprises and yet another workshops. There are at least 3 large metal statues, The Angel of Knives – a statue intended to motivate people to be against knife crime, the Spoon Gorilla – a Uri Gellar spectacular whose sole purpose seems to be to gain publicity and a dragon perched on top of a Jaguar car. There are bins everywhere encouraging you to donate £1.00 for charity to pay for this free attraction. There are going to be many forthcoming attractions including Tug of War and Concerts. There seems to be an intention to build some kind of a museum.
We visited on Sunday and there were a lot of people staring at the exhibits and eating in the café. Porta loos were scattered around since they seemed to have no normal toilet facilities, presumably due to planning difficulties.
The metal statues were interesting and well done. There seemed to be no claim to any artistic merit which seemed strange.
I fell to speculating what I would do with this destination if I was Mr Knowles. The location is great in so far as it is on the main A5 but the access is appalling – there must be many shunts as people drive in and out of the venue. Mr Knowles says he wants to improve access and will do so as and when he gets planning permission. Personally, I think this is a war that Mr Knowles will lose, even if he eventually gets his permission, he will have wasted so much time and energy that he will still have lost. So my proposal from afar and without full knowledge just out of interest would be to leave everything there is except the tourist attraction bit ie the café and the shop where it is but relocate the attraction bit where it is welcome. There will be local authorities crying out for the job opportunities that this would provide and finding a venue should not be difficult. The value of the venue would skyrocket with the new influx of tourists and Mr Knowles would be able to carry on his other ventures undisturbed. The farmhouse where Mr Knowles lives (presumably) would become a far nicer place without the hordes. So that would be my plan – I don’t think anyone will listen though.
I will watch the venue with interest as I drive by in future on my way to Llangollen and places further west. However I don’t think I shall be calling in again – unless the attraction takes on further depth rather than rely on pink gorillas.
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