Inscribed in 1986, Ironbridge Gorge is known throughout the world as the symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It contains all the elements of progress that contributed to the rapid development of this industrial region in the 18th century, from the mines themselves to the railway lines. Nearby, the blast furnace of Coalbrookdale, built in 1708, is a reminder of the discovery of coke. The bridge at Ironbridge, the world’s first bridge constructed of iron, had a considerable influence on developments in the fields of technology and architecture.
Within the property, five settlements are highlighted as of particular interest along with their features.
1. Coalbrookdale: in 1709, Quaker Abraham Darby I developed the production technique of smelting iron with coke which began the great 18th century iron revolution. There still remains a high concentration of 18th and 19th century dwellings, warehouses and public buildings.
2. Ironbridge: The famous Iron Bridge erected in 1779 by Abraham Darby III. At the eastern end of Ironbridge stand the remains of two 18th century blast furnaces, the Bedlam Furnaces, built in 1757.
3. Madeley: In Hay Brook Valley, lies a large open-air museum which incorporates the remains of the former Blists Hill blast furnaces and Blists Hill brick and tile works. Also of importance is the spectacular Hay Inclined Plane, which connected the Shropshire Canal to the Coalport Canal, which in turn linked with the River Severn.
4. Jackfield: The south bank of the River Severn was important for navigation, coal mining, clay production, and the manufacture of decorative tiles.
5. Coalport: Late 18th century industrialization. The area is remembered principally for the Coalport China Works.
The Ironbridge Gorge is rich in the material evidence of Britain’s emergence as the world’s first industrial nation. The events that took place here were fundamental to the origins of the Industrial Revolution and all that arose from it. Its significance is unquestionably global.
Today the genius of the place lies in its fusion of early industry, the fabric of the community that has grown up around it, and dramatic topography softened by a mosaic of post-industrial woodland habitats. This landscape is at once precious and fragile, home to a vibrant community, and a place for visitors who seek to understand its role in the making of the modern world and to simply enjoy its dramatic beauty.