A World First: The Iron Bridge

28 February 2019

The Ironbridge Gorge, birth place of the Industrial Revolution and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now home to 10 award-winning attractions. Nestled in a spectacular woodland gorge, and boasting what is sure to be an unforgettable experience, at the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Our tour ‘The Ironbridge Gorge and the River in the Sky’ takes us on an incredible journey around this fascinating experience. A trip over the bridge itself and entrance into the ever-popular Blists Hill Victorian Town – a museum with a difference – is all included.

The Iron Bridge

The need for a strong and durable bridge for transport across the river became clear back in 1773, when Shrewsbury architect, Thomas Farnolls Pritchard, combined his engineering expertise and new iron-casting techniques to propose the world’s first iron bridge. The cast iron single-span bridge of 30 metres has five main semi-circular ribs and a total of 378 tons of iron.

The first of its kind, the Iron Bridge was completed in 1779, and officially opened to traffic on New Years Day 1781. The bridge remained in full use to ever-increasing traffic for 150 years, but in 1934 it was closed to vehicles and declared an Ancient Monument. With the incredible structure being so unique against its natural backdrop above the River Severn, it has become a tourist hot-spot. The bridge has been a popular attraction since it’s opening, with tourists flocking here to marvel at its beauty and its dominance over the small town from which it takes its name.

The views from atop the bridge along the Severn valley are breath-taking.

Restored to its former glory in 2017, the bridge now stands proud above the River Severn in its original red-brown paintwork, safely preserved for the future. The bridge remains an iconic feature of Britain’s industrial past.

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust have developed a fantastic concept at Blists Hill, an open-air museum depicting life in a Victorian Town. Designed with the purpose of experiencing life back in the age of steam over 100 years ago, the museum has many interactive exhibits. Townsfolk dress in Victorian costume and go about their day, just how they would have done in the shops and workplaces in the late 1800’s, creating a very authentic and atmospheric Victorian experience. Some of the attractions on site, such as the canal and blast furnaces, have been relocated, brick by brick, from the local area. Others have been copied and constructed on site using traditional building materials.

Upon entering Blists Hill you can visit the bank, where you are able to change your money for Victorian tokens (pounds, shillings and pence) that can be spent in the towns shops and pubs. You can visit the pharmacy, and discover the weird and wonderful medicines that would have been available. You can watch the foundry men pouring molten iron, eat fish and chips - traditionally cooked in beef dripping, and enjoy treats from the 19th century selection of sweets and freshly baked bread in the bakers. Blists Hill has drapers and outfitters, a post office and stationers, a photographer, a cobbler’s shop, a butchers, stables, a printing shop, a plumbers, a locksmiths, a candle factory and a mine shaft, along with so much more! There is hours of fun to be had here.


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A World First: The Iron Bridge

The Ironbridge Gorge, birth place of the Industrial Revolution and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now home to 10 award-winning attractions.

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