Day Two: Ironbridge
Pack your bags and get ready for a day-trip from the comfort of your sofa/bed/bathtub. Today we’re off to The Ironbridge Gorge, an area in Shropshire that has the privilege of being a World Heritage Site because of its global importance to the Industrial Revolution. It’s a tremendously beautiful place; the green, densely wooded slopes of the Gorge belie the grittiness of its industrial history.
Readers of The Jack Hansard Series will understand why Ironbridge is so close to my heart. This is where we meet Ang, the crotchety little Welsh coblyn who becomes Jack’s trustworthy sidekick. They meet in the town of Ironbridge, which is where we find our bookshop stop for today: The Ironbridge Bookshop.
A big part of what makes independent bookshops so special is the people who run them. This bookshop happens to be run by the youngest bookshop-owner in England – yes, you read that right. Meg was just 18 when she took over The Ironbridge Bookshop six years ago, after having also worked there while growing up. Her brilliantly inventive and colourful displays are at the heart of this bookshop’s character.
Outside, the bookshop has a bright but quaint aesthetic to match the traditional surroundings of the town. Inside on the ground floor is where you’ll find a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. It’s a modest space and you won’t pack many people in at once, but the shelves are a treasure-trove of excellent books. I can attest to this personally as I’ve had the pleasure of visiting – and filling out my Terry Pratchett collection – on a few occasions.
Upstairs, however, is a different story. As you walk up the striking book-themed stairs, you quickly realise that The Ironbridge Bookshop is also a specialist bookshop.
“I’d say the most characteristic part of the shop is the Penguin Wall or book stairs. They are both colourful and eye catching and always provide a talking point!”Meg from The Ironbridge Bookshop
Penguin books are at the heart and soul of this shop. One vibrant wall of books – affectionately called the Penguin Wall – is filled with this huge collection of original Penguin titles. Some of them are quite rare indeed. If you have a Penguin collector in your life, send them this way immediately.
The upper floor is also home to beloved children’s classics: think Ladybird books and Beatrix Potter.
Overall, this bookshop has the kind of homely vibe that I love. Slightly narrow, slightly messy, filled with the clutter of an avid booklover. (Yes, books stacked on books is a legitimate decorating style, don’t judge me!) It’s bright and colourful and a joy to hunt for bookish treasures in.
How can I support The Ironbridge Bookshop?
If you’re lucky enough to live in the local area, The Ironbridge Bookshop is offering a click and collect service. And if not, they will post books out to you instead!
You should definitely follow the bookshop on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where Meg regularly posts beautiful book displays for you to enjoy. This is also a lovely way to browse new and old titles alike – often with a little bit of history included in the description, too. Follow, learn, and maybe snag yourself a collectible along the way!
These books from the ‘In Praise of’ series have caught my eye: sweet little books filled with uplifting poetry, short quotes and old photos, currently available for just £5.99 each.
And here’s an example of the kind of classic gems you might discover. Isn’t this selection of vintage Alice in Wonderland covers fascinating?
Placing an order is easy. You can get in touch with The Ironbridge Bookshop through any of their social media channels, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re hunting for something specific, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. Have fun treasure-hunting!
Before we go, here’s an extra stop for the Jack Hansard fans. Below is the famous Iron Bridge which Jack crosses to meet Ang and her hidden community of Welsh coblynau. The bridge was built in 1781 and is widely regarded as the first major bridge to be made of cast iron. And it’s just opposite The Ironbridge Bookshop!
That brings us to the end of today’s tour. I’ll leave you to browse while I prepare for tomorrow’s leg of the journey; it’s a long way to Cumbria. (If you want to see what’s coming up, you can find the full Tour Itinerary here.)
See you tomorrow!
All bookshop photos reproduced with the kind permission of The Ironbridge Bookshop.