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The world's first iron bridge was erected over the River Severn here in Shropshire in 1779. This pioneering structure marked a turning point in English design and engineering; after it was built, cast iron came to be widely used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts and buildings.
The Iron Bridge's story began in the early 18th century, in the nearby village of Coalbrookdale. Abraham Darby pioneered the smelting of iron using coke, a process that was a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. It was Abraham Darby III who cast the ironwork for the bridge that still stands today, using the same techniques developed by his grandfather.
The bridge was so successful that it gave its name to the spectacular wooded valley which surrounds it, now recognised as the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. This year, English Heritage begins a major conservation project to repair the Iron Bridge and secure its future. Read more about the project.
Before You Go
Parking: There is a car park nearby, not managed by English Heritage. Parking charges apply.
Please be aware: English Heritage does not permit drone flying from or over sites in our care, except by contractors or partners undertaking flights for a specific purpose, who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have the correct insurances and permissions, and are operating under controlled conditions.
Plan a Great Day Out
The Iron Bridge is the perfect place to begin a tour of Ironbridge Gorge. Now a peaceful valley, the gorge was once at the very heart of industry and engineering. Plan a visit to one of the museums and find out about the history of the area. There are also a number of other English Heritage sites nearby, including Buildwas Abbey, Wenlock Priory and Wroxeter Roman City.
Just 10 miles away from the Iron Bridge there is Boscobel House and the Royal Oak. The future King Charles II sought shelter here from Oliver Cromwell's men after being defeated at Worcester in 1651. The site provides an opportunity to get close to a significant moment in English history, as well as boasting a charming tearoom which makes it a great spot for lunch or tea.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. The English Heritage Trust is a charity, no. 1140351, and a company, no. 0744722, registered in England.
- 66% Self-generated income
- 20% One off capital grant
- 14% Government funding