the build

by uzwi

The handrails of Stoneway Steps are somehow both rusty and polished by use. The stair descends a succession of slots between frost-peeled red brick walls built on to layered outcrops of eroded sandstone poisoned with oxides and thick with cobwebs. Look up and you see the backs of houses and shops in the High Town. Old disused doors open into the air. Windows dusty and broken, likewise. The steps, bound with iron, rims shining from use in the wet depths, fall away towards the 16th Century houses by the river. Bridgnorth–pronounced with heavy emphasis on the second syllable–has the only inland cliff railway in Britain; also a church built by Thomas Telford, from the grounds of which the tilted ruins of Robert Bellem’s castle (founded 1101, demolished 1647) look less like architecture than the bow of some curious unfinished ship, darkly grooved, pocked, implying further structure hidden behind the trees–part-riveted decks, perhaps, vast girders with the cladding yet to be applied. It’s as if Telford had built St Mary Magdalen’s not on top of a hill but at the edge of a dock: as if his genius had already seen into some future of immense sea-level rises. The castle gardens are, by way of a counter-statement, comfortably ordered, safely landlocked, full of bedding plants.

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