Harry Rogers in a coracle on the flooded road in Ironbridge. Photo: IGMT
Tommy Rogers with a freshly caught fish. Photo: IGMT
Harry helping out during floods. Photo: IGMT
Harry rescuing a woman trapped by floods. Photo: IGMT
A Model T Ford car caught on a flooded road at Coalbrookdale, with a coracle coming to the rescue. Photo from Bruce Watson
A way of life
Coracles were at the centre of life for families like the Rogers who lived on the banks of the river.
Coracles were used for fishing, transport and helping people in trouble in the water or in floods. A skilled coracle man like Harry Rogers could find a dead body under the water or catch a huge tree trunk floating down the river.
Phyllis Blakemore remembers Eusatce showing her round the shed – "It was a fascinating jumble of tools some of which were in every day use, together with relics of the past. The walls, floor and bench were crowded with artefacts. Eusty pointed out old paddles, (called spades by the coracle men) and showed me ancient walking sticks carved with bird and animal heads. One corner of the workshop was crammed with fishing rods, nets and waders. In another I saw scythes, rakes, axes, and chains.
The floor was strewn with wicker baskets, rabbit nets, mole and rat traps. Over it all was a pleasant smell of tar, oil, rope
and freshly sawn wood. Although it looked like a jumble, Eusty knew where everything was, and patiently answered my many questions, except for the ring of rope! This was a circle about eight inches in diameter, made from tightly woven rope. I turned it over and over many times, trying to find the join.
"How was it made?" asked.
Laughing, he said "I am not going to tell you!" Nor would he."
"Nearby were some long white poles. I asked Eusty what they were used for. He said they were for locating the bodies of people drowned in the river and
explained how this was done. Eusty would get a rowing boat in midstream. On each side of the river would be a policeman steadying the boat with ropes.
As the boat went slowly with the flow of water Eusty would feel down as far as possible with the pole. He told me: "You always knew when the pole
touched a dead body. You knew it was that and could be nothing else." A great many bodies have been recovered by the Rogers family over the years. It
is a family tradition that they do not ask for payment for this grim task, and it is a tradition that has never wavered."
A home made pool cue or walking stick made by one of the Rogers family?