Returning again to the Geographical history of this mighty waterway, which is, in fact, the longest River in the United Kingdom, we must look even further back in time.
Once,the area between Shrewsbury & the Ironbridge Gorge was a great lake,but eventually the vast weight of water forced a way through the unstable clay & shale around Buildwas,& the waters of the great lake poured through the breach,carving a channel between the glacial deposits on the edge of the South Shropshire coalfield & the limestone rock of Benthall Edge. Over thousands of years the waters of the Severn carved their way through the soft topsoils of middle England, finally emptying into the great natural estuary of the Bristol Channel. Realising the ready availability of Coal, Clay, Timber & the waterway itself within the area of the Gorge,the forefathers of modern industry were quick to establish this part of the World as the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution.
For three centuries at the end of the last millennium,the area flourished & the River was the key to its success. Severn Trows plied their way up & down its course from Ironbridge to Bristol & communities grew up along its banks to cater for the hundreds of people involved in transporting the products manufactured by Abraham Darby & his successors from Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, Jackfield & Coalport to the World at large. But progress brought change & well before the end of the 20th century the area,& the River itself, were in decline. The advent of the railways,improved road networks & the growth of vast urban connurbations requiring goods to be manufactured more locally, brought an end to the heyday of manufacturing in the Ironbridge Gorge.
The River began to return to its natural state. Man-made structures along its banks, wharfs, warehouses, factories, homes, began to fall into disrepair. Nature began to take back what man had abandoned. By the late 1960’s, the Ironbridge Gorge had begun to be forgotten & the area was in serious decline.
The decision to locate the Telford New Town on the Northern edge of the Gorge & the subsequent investment in the area, coupled with the elevation of the former starting-point of the industrial revolution to a World heritage site, brought about a massive improvement to all aspects of life in & around Ironbridge.
So what of angling? well for certain people have been fishing the River Severn for many centuries.the Ironbridge Angling Society itself has connections back to the days of the Cope-Darby family & their lands along the banks of the River. Before the advent of commercial fisheries,the River was the place where generations of Anglers learned their craft. On almost any Sunday,whatever the weather,from Much Wenlock bridge to Coalport bridge,it would be a struggle to find a vacant peg, as dozens of anglers from the many local clubs & societies,competed in matches to see who could catch the most, or the largest, fish.