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December 18, 2013

England: Ironbridge Gorge


Ironbridge Gorge's namesake structure

Ironbridge Gorge’s namesake structure

As we travel we make a point of searching out and visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites.  During our stay in England’s Midlands, we discovered that the UNESCO World Heritage designated Ironbridge Gorge was not far away.

Ironbridge Gorge is named for a bridge over River Severn in what used to be known as the Severn Gorge.  The bridge is the first arch span in the world to be made of cast iron.  After construction was completed, the area became so associated with its bridge that Severn Gorge became known as the Ironbridge Gorge.  The namesake iron bridge still stands today.  It remains as the area’s prime attraction.

The gorge’s UNESCO designation celebrates far more than the famous bridge.  UNESCO states:

Ironbridge 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.

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Relics of the area’s industrial age are on display in the gorge’s museums.  For those not interested in history or museums, the gorge is still worth a visit.  Its scenic location, numerous pubs, and restaurants make Ironbridge Gorge a pleasant place to spend a quiet couple of nights.

Just downstream from Ironbridge are modern cooling towers.

Just downstream from Ironbridge are modern cooling towers.

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