Shropshire

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Somewhere between the Potteries and the Black Country is the county where the Industrial Revolution was born. The epicentre of this was Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge, where Abraham Darby's bridge inspires the name of the latter place. Since becoming a UNESCO Listed site in 1986, Ironbridge and surrounding area became popular with tourists. Key to this is the Blists Hill Open Air Museum, which reenacts a Victorian street scene. Owned by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, it also includes another nine sites. This includes the bridge itself with tollhouse, Coalport China Museum and the Broseley Pipeworks.

Today, its proximity to the M54 motorway and the new town of Telford makes the ten attractions accessible from most parts of England and Wales. Conference facilities and banqueting is also available; if you're looking for a totally different conference venue to the norm, facilities are available in the Glass Classroom and The Engine Shop. Blists Hill has potential for outdoor events, and you can change your money into pre-decimal currency.

Close to Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale is the New Town of Telford. Very much a product of 1960s expansion, its modern centre is off the M54 motorway and has a number of conference venues. One example is the University of Wolverhampton's Telford campus. Another one is The International Centre, a purpose built facility with over 15,000 square metres of exhibition space. As well as commodious halls, it also has more intimate suites for smaller meetings.

A few miles west is the older town of Shrewsbury, famed for its abbey, castle and public school. It is known for its medieval heritage and the town where Charles Darwin was born and raised. There is a number of half-timber framed buildings and regular market days. Its railway station is a gateway to the scenic Cambrian Coast and Heart of Wales railway lines.

South of Shrewsbury, either by rail or along the A49, is the small town of Church Stretton, which is famed for its mineral water. During the 18th Century, it developed into a spa town, and in late Victorian and Edwardian times, was nicknamed 'Little Switzerland', owing to the terrain.

Gastrophiles would love Ludlow. It is known for its restaurants and at one point, was the only UK town to have three Michelin Starred restaurants. It has an annual food and drink festival, with the three day event having food and drink trails. Other than food, it is famed for its castle plus the Ludlow Assembly Rooms has live entertainment, cinema and art exhibitions.

In the very north of Shropshire is a number of villages such as Wem and Prees. Small towns include Whitchurch and Market Drayton, both near the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire respectively.

Sporting venues include the Greenhaus Stadium, home to Shrewsbury Town, and The New Bucks Head, AFC Telford United's home (the latter with a hotel backing onto the main stand). Horse racing takes place at Ludlow, which as well as being a National Hunt racecourse, hosts a number of exhibitions and corporate events. There is also a number of golf courses.

By road, the A5, A49, A53 and M54 are among the county's trunk routes. By rail, regular services on the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line serve the county town and Telford, with regular buses into Ironbridge from the latter. The county's north-south rail link is the Manchester Piccadilly - Cardiff Central service which calls at Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Ludlow.

For a conference venue destination with a difference, Shropshire is a wise choice. Even wiser if your delegates love food, industrial heritage or beautiful scenery.