Spectacular, beautiful Ironbridge
"The earliest bridge of cold blast iron designed by Abraham Darby in 1778. The charm as well as the admirable boldness of the bridge is indeed its light and lacy thinness." - Pevsner
It was at Ironbridge, Shropshire that first large scale production of cast iron was developed using a process pioneered by Abraham Darby. Items made in Ironbridge were shipped all over the world.
Here in 1779 the worlds first cast iron bridge was built spanning the River Severn - beautifully constructed, totally innovative - today the Ironbridge stands as a permanent reminder of our industrial past.
Ironbridge is regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - sitting alongside The Taj Mahal, The Pyramids and The Grand Canyon - pretty important sites.
Constructed of solid iron girders supported on two stone abutments, the Iron Bridge represented a major turning-point in the industrial revolution. Abraham Darby and his family had always operated a small ferry at the site and Abraham's grandson proposed the idea of building a river bridge from iron process through a method they had pioneered. Once built, it became a symbol of progress and technical mastery and people travelled from all over the world to see it, including engineers, iron industry magnates, artists and spies from other companies, intent on finding out about this man-made wonder. It was an overnight tourist attraction. Prior to this point bridges had always been made in stone or wood. At Ironbridge a toll-keeper was employed to collect money from people crossing the bridge from 6am to 9pm each day. Those attempting to cross by any other means once it was in operation were fined. However, it later became quite cheap to cross the river because tolls could only be increased by Parliament, which is why, until 1950, pedestrians were still only being charged a halfpenny to cross.
The ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums tell this momentous story and offer a chance to step back to a time when the pounding of steam hammers and clatter of horses hooves on cobbles were commonplace.
Get a "Passport Ticket" and you will get twelve months unlimited day time admission to all 10 museums. Then at any time after the first twelve months you can return once to visit any museums that you missed.
The Tollhouse and Ironbridge - the original Ironbridge.
The Museum of the Gorge - good place to start.
Museum of Iron - with the original furnace that started it all.
Blists Hill - experience the atmosphere of a Victorian working town.
Coalport China Museum - dazzling displays of two centuries of china.
Darby Houses - where Abraham Darby III finalised plans for the Ironbridge.
Jackfield Tile Museum - former world centre of the decorative tile industry.
Broseley Pipeworks - preserved time capsule of clay pipe making.
Enginuity - Test your reactions against the speed of a robot, generate power from water or pull a locomotive by hand.
Tar Tunnel - Put on your hard hat and venture underground.
You can also visit The Maws Craft Centre, the Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture, A Victorian Police Station and Old Court House. There are leisure boat trips on the River, walks and cycle ways and you can even turn your hand to making a Coracle with the Green Wood Trust.
Plentiful supplies of clay and good transport led to factories making decorative tiles, bricks and the finest china. There are little shops, charming pubs and inns have built up around the Ironbridge and along the banks of the Severn.
For More information about Ironbridge contact Ironbridge Gorge Visitor Information Centre.