The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site

About The Ironbridge Gorge WHS

Why is The Ironbridge Gorge a WHS

The Ironbridge Gorge was one of the first places in the UK to receive World Heritage Site status and has been on the list since 1986. It was included on the World Heritage Site List because of its unique and special role in the birth of the Industrial Revolution, which marked a major turning point in human society. The Industrial Revolution originated in Britain in the eighteenth century and later spread right across the world.


The Ironbridge Gorge has a powerful story to tell about its past, present and future. It is an enchanting, fascinating and unique place where history and nature have combined over many years to produce a landscape and environment of unrivalled beauty and intrigue.

What happened in The Ironbridge Gorge?

Mother Nature endowed the area with many of the raw materials of industry – coal, limestone, wood, iron ore, clay and water. Combine with that the genius and entrepreneurial skills of people like Abraham Darby and John Wilkinson and it is no surprise that this once rural area was transformed in the 18th century into "the most important industrial area in the world". The Ironbridge Gorge is now often referred to as the Birthplace of Industry because it was here that in 1709 Darby perfected a technique for manufacturing iron using coke which enabled, for the first time, the mass production of high quality iron.


The pioneering iron works of Coalbrookdale and surrounding area gave the world the first iron rails and iron wheels. In 1779, the famous Iron Bridge became the world's first ever bridge constructed from iron. This extraordinary structure is now an internationally recognised symbol of the Industrial Revolution.


Two hundred years ago, The Ironbridge Gorge would have been a harsh, industrial environment, the air filled with the acrid smell and relentless noise of industry. Life for those who lived and worked in the gorge would have been very hard.

What is The Ironbridge Gorge like now?

The Gorge is now a friendly, welcoming and beautiful place to visit. Since the mines closed and the ironworks fell silent, nature has re-established her presence. The woodlands that were cut down to provide wood for the furnaces and mines have regenerated and the spoil tips and old workings have become green and attractive.


Today, The Ironbridge Gorge is a place of beauty, attractive historic buildings set in a wooded valley landscape with the River Severn flowing through on its way from the hills of Mid Wales to the Bristol Channel.

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