"A part of the World Heritage Site Ironbridge Gorge"
The Iron bridge of which Ironbridge Gorge takes it's name is the one of the most iconic images of Britain. It is in the centre of Ironbridge and is accessible at all times of the year on foot only. There is no vehicular access. It is very photogenic and transports foot passengers, who may have parked in the long stay car park on the opposite side of the river, over the River Severn into the town centre. On the car park side is also the Toll House which today acts as a small museum and local tourist information centre.
The Iron Bridge
Today's bridge was built by Abraham Darby III, along with others initially, witch him using Iron from his furnaces in the area and putting in most of the money to build it. Prior to its construction there were 6 ferry crossings in the gorge to get across the mighty River Severn, which was a main artery to the Bristol Channel and markets beyond. However the local industry was always at the mercy of the River and at times it would run too shallow in the summer and two high and fast in the winter so an alternative had to be found.
The Tollhouse is situated on the opposite side of the River Severn from the main town centre. It is not known exactly when the Tollhouse was erected although what we see today is what it was enlarged to in 1835. If this is enlargement it makes you wonder how small the original building was. On the outside just like all Tollhouses it has the details of the toll prices for different types of people and transportation which used it.
In 1776 an Act of Parliament for the Iron Bridge includes in its text the toll prices at this time and these were never changed. Another unusual feature of these tolls was that Royalty was not exempt from paying them as in some other cases. In fact within the building there is a picture of a visit when Prince Charles visited back in the 1970ís which shows him handing over his toll. However today the tolls are not enforced and it is possible to cross the bridge free of charge.
Today within the Tollhouse there is an exhibition on the first floor to the building of the bridge and function of the tollhouse and a little history of itís illustrious visitors over the years, as well as scaled models of the bridge and cuttings from newspapers etc. Downstairs is mainly the tourist information centre.
There are some great photo opportunities for this bridge, from both sides of the River, with a footpath running down either side at a lower level, picnic and community areas near to it and if you fancy the climb up to the church on the side of the hill then an aerial view can be achieved.
The Annual Passport. The Ironbridge Museums operate an Annual Ticket and Passport where for one price you can get access to all 10 of their sites with unlimited day time access during normal opening hours, so you can return as often as you like for a whole year. If after 12 months you have still not visited particular sites, you can return at any time in the future to make one free visit to the sites that you've missed. These tickets are sold at all the museums and the visitor information centre in Ironbridge itself or you can buy them in advance by phone. The 2009 prices for the Passport tickets are:
Adult £19.95; 60+ £15.95; Child £12.95 or a family ticket for 2A up to 3C £54.95.
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