Ironbridge

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Coordinates: 52°37′40″N 2°29′07″W / 52.6278°N 2.4854°W / 52.6278; -2.4854

Ironbridge is a village on the River Severn, at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England. It lies in the civil parish of The Gorge, in the borough of Telford and Wrekin. Ironbridge developed beside, and takes its name from, the famous Iron Bridge, a 30 metre (100 ft) cast iron bridge that was built across the river there in 1779.

Contents

History

The area around Ironbridge is described by those promoting it as a tourist destination as the "Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution". This is a falsehood based 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 one place, but in many. The growth of railways, spinning machines, weaving and other industrial inventions and activities were going on all over the country. Smelting iron by Darby was but one small part of this generalised revolution and was soon superseded by the great iron-smelting areas.

The grandson of the first Abraham Darby, Abraham Darby III, built the famous 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 and 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 sights of the Severn Gorge. 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 canal barge owners, and many early Victorian villas built from the various coloured bricks and tiles of the locality.

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