My favourite part of the ironworks were the old workers cottages. Some of them had been gutted and housed a display about the ironworks and the town. The majority were intact and furnished as they would have been at various times since 1789.
There was mock up of the shop for the workers and a very interesting explanation of the 'truck system'. (I'd learnt about this system of exploiting the workers when I studied O Level History but I'd completely forgotten about it since then!)
Some of the cottages had a 1930s theme. The green doors are the 'privies'. I started to tell Mark stories of visiting my Great-Aunt when I was a little girl. She lived in a cramped cottage just like these in a small mill town near Mancester.
I was just on the point of explaining about her 'kitchenette' when we walked into the next cottage and there was one right in front of us! I just had to take a photo. I remember that my Great-Aunt's had a small foldaway table and masses of useful storage. It was perfect for her tiny kitchen.
It took us about an hour and a half to read our way through the displays, listen to all the information posts around the site and walk through the cottages. I was surprised that such a great site was completely free.
We then walked the short distance down the hill to the World Heritage Visitor Centre. The old buildings on the right house further displays and an Art Gallery. The glass extension is a really lovely cafe.
This was the view across the valley from the cafe. The low buildings on the right are part of The Big Pit - the National Mining Museum. We spent quite a bit of time chatting to a few local people. They explained that visitors tend to come to The Big Pit but they don't tend to come down the hill and visit the rest of the site. We really enjoyed a fascinating morning.
Other news from 'Stand and Stare land'... My Lovely Pregnant Colleague had her baby at 1.30 this morning. She's had a little boy. Another colleague within the Arts Faculty had a baby girl last night as well - in the same hospital. Apparently they were in next door beds! They had joked about this happening before the event and it was amusing to hear that it actually happened.
I've got a performance with my Year 9 Btec class this evening so it's been rehearsals and keeping them all calm since lunchtime. To be honest I feel really tired at the moment and could just curl up into a ball and sleep! I'm sure that this lack of energy comes from our ridiculous weather. Never mind - almost the Bank Holiday weekend!