Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Beware of Signs in Bridgnorth

I went as a passenger recently on one of Woods Coaches trips, this time to a couple of towns in Shropshire.

As I’ve said before, it’s a pleasant form of relaxation for me to go on somebody else’s trip. I still get to see nice things, but am not actually in charge of anything!

On this particular trip, the first town we visited was Ludlow.

Ludlow is actually one of my favourite small towns (some of the others include Maldon, Bakewell and Richmond), with its impressive castle, narrow streets and spectacular black and white houses and inns.

I was just a little disappointed that one of my favourite eating places, Aragon’s in Ludlow, was closed while the owners were on holiday. How dare they? But I had a nice snack in the Buttery in Castle Square. The food and coffee were good, and the friendly and polite young staff were efficient.

I took a successful Coach Trip to Ludlow last year, and led a Guided Walk around the town.

Then it was on to Bridgnorth.

This is another very interesting town, especially as it is on two levels, linked by England’s only inland funicular railway, or by several flights of steps if you are really energetic.

I followed the directional signs down the main street and down another street to the Tourist Information Centre. The signs confirmed where I remembered that it was situated.

Unfortunately, when I arrived, the building (which shared premises with the Public Library) was closed, with a handwritten notice telling enquirers that it was now in a totally different location.

So I retraced my steps back to the main street, and down another street. I found the TIC and Library where the handwritten notice had said.

I like to visit TICs, mainly just to say hello, but also to pick up any useful information and to see how visitors are welcomed. Usually, they get a very good welcome.

Here, the lady behind the counter was on the telephone. I waited for her to finish, but the call went on and on. Normally, under these circumstances, I would have been smiled at apologetically and assured that she would be with me in a minute.

This time, in Bridgnorth, I was ignored.

So, saying “I’ll have to ring you from Leicester instead”, I started to leave the building. But then I realised that I could still speak to somebody as the Library desk was opposite where I had been standing, so I went back in.

I smiled at the lady on the Library reception and asked her “has the TIC just moved?”

She clearly didn’t understand the question, so I apologised. I really shouldn’t have used jargon. “The Tourist Information Centre”, I said, “has it just recently moved?”

“It’s over there”, she replied, “that’s the Tourist Information Centre”. “I know”, I said “but she won’t speak to me, will she? She’s still on the phone.”

I told the Library lady that I was a Blue Badge Guide from Leicester, visiting the town with a coach party, that I had followed the signs leading me to the TIC, only to find that I then had to find an entirely different location. I asked again, had it just recently moved?

“Well, not that recently”, I was told, “in November”. This was March.

So I asked, I don’t think unreasonably, whether nobody felt it would be a good idea to correct the signs. She told me, in that patronising tone which always suggests that one is being a bit stupid, that she didn’t think they would change the signs. “It’s only temporary, anyway”, she said.

I pointed out that it was a mite infuriating to be given wrong directions, especially when visiting the town (and probably spending money in it). But by this time I was clearly marked down as being a troublemaker. After all, she clearly felt, local people knew about the change.

“Don’t visitors to Bridgnorth matter?”, I asked her. She didn’t reply, so the answer was pretty clear.

As I left the building, she was enjoying the joke with a colleague.

So beware of the signs if you do decide to visit Bridgnorth. As a visitor, you probably won’t feel very important.