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Ironbridge, seen from the Iron Bridge
Shropshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Shropshire
Population2,582 (2011) [1]
OS grid reference SJ6724903350
  London 126 mi (203 km)  SE
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town TELFORD
Postcode district TF8
Dialling code 01952
Police West Mercia
Fire Shropshire
Ambulance West Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
52°37′40″N2°29′06″W / 52.6277°N 2.485°W / 52.6277; -2.485 Coordinates: 52°37′40″N2°29′06″W / 52.6277°N 2.485°W / 52.6277; -2.485

Ironbridge is a large village in the borough of Telford and Wrekin in Shropshire, England. Located on the bank of the River Severn, at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, it lies in the civil parish of The Gorge. Ironbridge developed beside, and takes its name from, The Iron Bridge, a 100-foot (30 m) cast iron bridge that was built in 1779.



The area around Ironbridge is described by those promoting it as a tourist destination as the "Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution". [2] This description is based[ citation needed ] on the idea that Abraham Darby perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke, in Coalbrookdale, allowing much cheaper production of iron. However, the industrial revolution did not begin in any one place. Darby's iron smelting was but one small part of this generalised revolution and was soon superseded by the great iron-smelting areas. However, the bridge – being the first of its kind fabricated from cast iron, and one of the few which have survived to the present day – remains an important symbol representative of the dawn of the industrial age.[ citation needed ]

The grandson of the first Abraham Darby, Abraham Darby III, built the bridge – originally designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard  – to link the two areas. Construction began in 1779, and the bridge opened on New Year's Day 1781. Soon afterwards the ancient Madeley market was relocated to the new purpose-built square and Georgian Butter Cross. The former dispersed settlement of Madeley Wood gained a planned urban focus as Ironbridge, the commercial and administrative centre of the Coalbrookdale coalfield.

The Iron Bridge proprietors also built the Tontine Hotel to accommodate visitors to the new bridge and the industrial sites of the Severn Gorge. Across a square facing the hotel, stands Ironbridge's war memorial, which was erected in 1924. It is a bronze statue of a First World War soldier in marching order, sculpted by Arthur George Walker, whose signature appears as does that of A.B. Burton, the foundry worker who erected it. [3] On the hillside above the river are situated the stone-built 16th-century hunting lodge at Lincoln Hill, many 17th- and 18th-century workers' cottages, some imposing Georgian houses built by ironmasters and mine and river barge owners, and many early Victorian villas built from the various coloured bricks and tiles of the locality.

A view of the Iron Bridge in 2015 with its previous grey colour View of Ironbridge.jpg
A view of the Iron Bridge in 2015 with its previous grey colour

St Luke's Church (1837) in simple Commissioners' Gothic by Samuel Smith of Madeley, has stained glass by David Evans of Shrewsbury. Its design is unusual in that the sanctuary is at the west-end and the tower at the east, in reverse to the majority of churches. This is because the land at the west-end was unstable and unable to take the weight of a tower. The bells in the church tower were installed in 1920 as a memorial to parishioners who died in World War I, and the external church clock was illuminated in memory of those who died in World War II. [3] The living was endowed as a rectory when the parish was created from Madeley in 1847, and is now a united benefice with Coalbrookdale and Little Wenlock, in the Diocese of Hereford.

The former Ironbridge and Broseley railway station, on the Severn Valley line (GWR) from Hartlebury to Shrewsbury, was situated on the south side of the Iron Bridge until 1966. Ironbridge was the birthplace of England National Football Team captain Billy Wright.

Present day

The Iron Bridge following the 2018 restoration Iron Bridge east side in February 2019.jpg
The Iron Bridge following the 2018 restoration

By the 19th century, Ironbridge had had many well-known visitors, including Benjamin Disraeli, but by the mid-20th century, the settlements and industries of the gorge were in decline. In 1986, though, Ironbridge became part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which covers the wider Ironbridge Gorge area) and has since become a major tourist attraction within Shropshire. Most industries in Ironbridge are now tourist-related; however, the Merrythought teddy bear company (established in 1930) is still manufacturing in Ironbridge and has a small museum there too. Amongst other things, the centre of Ironbridge is host to a post office, pharmacy, various pubs, cafés and many small independent shops.

Ironbridge was struck by an F1/T2 tornado on 23 November 1981, as part of the record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day. [4] On Thursday 10 July 2003 The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made a visit to Shropshire which included a visit to Ironbridge, and a walk over the bridge itself. [5]

An annual Coracle Regatta is held in August on the River Severn at Ironbridge, along with many other events throughout the year. This is mainly because the coracle-making family of Rogers lived in Ironbridge for several generations. Just outside Ironbridge in Coalbrookdale is the Ironbridge Institute, a partnership between the University of Birmingham and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust offering postgraduate and professional development in heritage.


Flood barriers erected along the Wharfage Flood barriers in Ironbridge.jpg
Flood barriers erected along the Wharfage
Statue of Billy Wright outside Molineux BillyWrightStatue.jpg
Statue of Billy Wright outside Molineux

Ironbridge has an annually recurring problem of flooding from the River Severn, as do many other parts of Shropshire. Flooding has previously caused much damage and disruption to the Wharfage, which accommodates both The Swan and White Hart pubs, and various private homes. Starting in February 2004, DEFRA in association with the Environment Agency implemented a portable barrier which is erected at times of floods. At its peak, the flood water has reached a depth of one metre (3 ft 3 in) against the barrier.

On 26 February 2020, after large amounts of rainfall brought by storms Ciara and Dennis, the portable barrier was compromised, requiring an evacuation of all residents from the wharfage. [6] Ironbridge flooded again in February 2022. [7] [8]

Notable people

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust owns and operates 10 museums throughout the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site; they collectively tell the story of the Industrial Revolution.

The museums include:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ironbridge Gorge</span> Deep river valley in Shropshire, England

The Ironbridge Gorge is a deep gorge, containing the River Severn in Shropshire, England. It was first formed by a glacial overflow from the long drained away Lake Lapworth, at the end of the last ice age. The deep exposure of the rocks cut through by the gorge exposed commercial deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone and fireclay, which enabled the rapid economic development of the area during the early Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coalbrookdale</span> Human settlement in England

Coalbrookdale is a village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, containing a settlement of great significance in the history of iron ore smelting. It lies within the civil parish called the Gorge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blists Hill Victorian Town</span> Open-air museum in Telford

Blists Hill Victorian Town is an open-air museum built on a former industrial complex located in the Madeley area of Telford, Shropshire, England. The museum attempts to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian Shropshire town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is one of ten museums operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Broseley</span> Market town in Shropshire, England

Broseley is a market town in Shropshire, England, with a population of 4,929 at the 2011 Census and an estimate of 5,022 in 2019. The River Severn flows to its north and east. The first iron bridge in the world was built in 1779 across the Severn, linking Broseley with Coalbrookdale and Madeley. This contributed to the early industrial development in the Ironbridge Gorge, which is now part of a World Heritage Site.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madeley Wood Company</span>

The Madeley Wood Company was formed in 1756 when the Madeley Wood Furnaces, also called Bedlam Furnaces, were built beside the River Severn, one mile west of Blists Hill.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madeley, Shropshire</span> Human settlement in England

Madeley is a constituent town and civil parish in Telford and Wrekin in Shropshire, England. The parish had a population of 17,935 at the 2001 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abraham Darby III</span>

Abraham Darby III was an English ironmaster and Quaker. He was the third man of that name in several generations of an English Quaker family that played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coalport</span> Human settlement in England

Coalport is a village in Shropshire, England. It is located on the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, a mile downstream of Ironbridge. It lies predominantly on the north bank of the river; on the other side is Jackfield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abraham Darby I</span>

Abraham Darby, in his later life called Abraham Darby the Elder, now sometimes known for convenience as Abraham Darby I, was an English ironmaster and foundryman. Born into an English Quaker family that played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, Darby developed a method of producing pig iron in a blast furnace fuelled by coke rather than charcoal. This was a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Iron Bridge</span> Bridge across the River Severn in Shropshire, England

The Iron Bridge is a cast iron arch bridge that crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England. Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. Its success inspired the widespread use of cast iron as a structural material, and today the bridge is celebrated as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust</span>

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is an industrial heritage organisation which runs ten museums and manages multiple historic sites within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Shropshire, England, widely considered as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jackfield</span> Human settlement in England

Jackfield is a village in Shropshire, England, lying on the south bank of River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, downstream from Ironbridge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jackfield Tile Museum</span> Museum of ceramic tile making, part of the Ironbridge Gorge

Jackfield Tile Museum is a museum which presents the history of the British decorative tile industry between 1840 and 1960, the period in which this factory and that of Maw & Co nearby played an important part in this industry. The museum lies in the village of Jackfield, near Broseley, on the south bank of the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England. It is located within a World Heritage Site, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It is one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge museums administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shropshire Canal</span>

The Shropshire Canal was a tub boat canal built to supply coal, ore and limestone to the industrial region of east Shropshire, England, that adjoined the River Severn at Coalbrookdale. It ran from a junction with the Donnington Wood Canal ascending the 316 yard long Wrockwardine Wood inclined plane to its summit level, it made a junction with the older Ketley Canal and at Southall Bank the Coalbrookdale (Horsehay) branch went to Brierly Hill above Coalbrookdale; the main line descended via the 600 yard long Windmill Incline and the 350 yard long Hay Inclined Plane to Coalport on the River Severn. The short section of the Shropshire Canal from the base of the Hay Inclined Plane to its junction with the River Severn is sometimes referred to as the Coalport Canal.

<i>Coalbrookdale by Night</i>

Coalbrookdale by Night is an 1801 oil painting by Philip James de Loutherbourg.

The Tuckies is a hamlet in the eastern part of Jackfield, lying on the south bank of the River Severn, in the Ironbridge Gorge, and opposite the village of Coalport. The purpose of this article is to capture its historical importance during the industrial revolution and provide links to the people and culture that once thrived here. The lower part of The Tuckies, in Ferry Road, is still badly affected by flooding and head-height water levels are clearly displayed in a doorway at The Boat Inn where the 1922 memorial footbridge crosses the River Severn to Coalport. The Severn Valley railway, operated by GWR, ran through The Tuckies and the original railway bridge, now forming part of the Severn Valley Way, still crosses the road there, at OS grid reference 693024.

Preens Eddy is a settlement on the south bank of the River Severn, opposite Coalport. Its history lies at the heart of the industrial revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron</span> A museum in the small village of Coalbrookdale telling the story of the Industrial Revolution.

The Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron is one of ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The museum is based in the village of Coalbrookdale in the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England within a World Heritage Site, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Museum of the Gorge, Ironbridge</span>

The Museum of the Gorge, originally the Severn Warehouse, is one of the ten museums of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. It portrays the history of the Ironbridge Gorge and the surrounding area of Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England.

The Gorge is a civil parish in the district of Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire, England. It contains 215 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. Of these, two are listed at Grade I, the highest of the three grades, 13 are at Grade II*, the middle grade, and the others are at Grade II, the lowest grade. The River Severn runs through the parish and, together with a tributary running from the north, form Ironbridge Gorge, which contains the town of Ironbridge, and the villages of Coalbrookdale, Coalport and part of Jackfield.


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