The River Severn was once one of the busiest rivers in Europe, carrying hundreds of sailing barges known as ‘Trows’. They played a vital part in supporting the phenomenal development of industry from the late eighteenth century around the upper reach of the river in Shropshire, which later became known as the Ironbridge Gorge.
In those days, before canals and railways, boats plying the rivers and their estuaries were the best means available for carrying sizeable loads between inland towns and coastal ports.
River Severn trows evolved to a design particularly suited to the shallow river and were strong, flat bottomed and round bilged.
The only surviving trow, the historic ‘SPRY’ - one of the larger, estuary navigating trows which were developed later as the Shropshire industry and the up-river traffic declined - has been rebuilt from the original vessel by the Upper Severn Navigation Trust (which is now The Spry Trust) in conjunction with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
This recording shows her being recovered as a rotting hulk from the Diglis canal basin on the river Severn at Worcester, in early 1982.
Rebuilt fully to her original river-worthy condition, we follow her as she returns to the water at Bristol, and sails in the Severn estuary to Cardiff Docks, then Sharpness and on to Gloucester docks, before she is returned to the Ironbridge Gorge Musuem site at Blists Hill for preservation.
The rebuilding was carried out at Blists Hill Open Air Museum of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, under the supervision and active involvement of Master Shipwright Alan Williams.
Further information can be obtained from The Spry Trust at:
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Coach Road,
Coalbrookdale, Telford, Shropshire, TF8 7DQ
Telephone 01952 43590
A major project of
THE SPRY TRUST
Registered Charity (registration No. 508062)
in conjunction with the
IRONBRIDGE GORGE MUSEUM TRUST
This video record has been compiled from material from various acknowledged sources, to form a complete visual account of the whole project.
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More details of the Spry's recent history can be found on our features page: Spry - The Last Severn Trow
The images on this page are taken from the video.