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Museum of Iron

Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, Shropshire

Location Guide

"A part of the World Heritage Site Ironbridge Gorge"

The museum of iron celebrates the importance of Iron in this gorge and it's effect on the early iron industry. Coalbrookdale was Abraham Darby's ironworks within the valley. In 1707 he patented a method of casting iron pots which was to make iron pots to become more accessible to the ordinary person, and because they were thinner than what had been produced up to now they were more practical to use. Some would say they were not pretty, being black and not very decorative, but they were practical and useable and became very popular.  Over successive generations of the family the factory expanded into producing iron wheels, rails, steam engine cylinders, and bridges like that at Ironbridge itself. By the Victorian period it had become famous for it's decorative cast ironwork.

Abraham Darby pioneered the smelting techniques which produce cast iron and he not only revolutionised the iron industry but also transformed the home making cooking much easier with cooking pots initially and then branching out into mangles, fireplaces, lamp holders, hat stands and more.

Today the Coalbrookdale factory is a museum and as you enter the museum you are taken on a journey through the history of iron, finding out about the people behind the factory and Iron making, as well as seeing many examples of what cast iron can be used for as well as how decorative it can be. Over 3 floors it contains many exhibits and examples of what can be achieved with cast iron. Amongst the exhibits are many cast iron pots in different sizes and styles, there is a large deerhound round hall table made of iron and the 4 life size deerhounds support the large and what looks to be heavy marble tabletop, however it is painted to look like marble. One thing you will notice is the versatility of iron being used for aesthetic purposes, it can be sculpted and there are many sculptures of dogs, deer and some of them life-size, and into more practical items such as hall tables, garden furniture, fire grates, kitchen ranges and Rayburns/Aga's of differing generations including up to date new ones which are still made in the area today.

On the first floor of the museum you are first shown the difference between cast-iron and wrought-iron being taken through the different techniques used of how it is made as well as examples of what can be achieved with each, such as the intricate wrought iron items, like railings that could be achieved by the blacksmith and the more solid art objects which are made of the lighter weight cast iron. There are exhibits that allow you get hands on to see how some of the processes work, as well as those that show you what can be achieved with the cast iron process.

See Larger Image                                           Examples of some of the decorative work                                See Larger Image

 

On the second floor this looks at Coalbrookdale, both the company, the community and the Darby family. It takes you through the different people who had a influence on the company and area, not only the Darby's but others that were brought in to manage it. Exhibits, films, quotations from famous customers such as Richard Trevethick, the Cornish engineer,  and examples of goods and products.

On top of the museum building is a large clocktower made of cast iron, which has intricate panels that show off the skill and craftsmanship of those working at the factory at that time.

Within the grounds there are the remains of some of the ironworks and in a new wooden building to protect it the remains of Abraham Darby's original Old Furnace. From the viewing platform you get to take a look down into the old furnace, this is the position the workers would have experienced the intense heat and choking fumes as they tipped the raw materials from their baskets into the opening. During the main tourist season guided tours take place so as you take a look at both the remaining walls of the furnace area and into the Old Furnace building you find out about the history of the place and how it might have run at that time. Outside there are also some ironwork statues. The grounds are also overlooked by the large arches of the Severn Valley Railway branch line, which is still in use today carrying goods only, no passenger service.

The Clock Tower

See Larger Image The Old Furnace from the top See Larger Image The Old Furnaces from below

Nearby are the Darby Houses, which were homes of the Darby family during their time at the factory. These houses overlook the top-up pond which provided the water needed to power the bellows on the furnace. Behind the main museum building another building as been transformed into another museum, Enginuity, which is worth taking a look at, and kids will really enjoy the hands on experience they get in here.

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.


Location: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Ironbridge, Shropshire

Grid Reference: SJ667047 Ceremonial County: Shropshire

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap   Multimap birds eye view

Getting there: Exit J6 or J4 of M54. Follow signs for Ironbridge Gorge. Then follow signs for Coalbrookdale Museums.

Access: Enter the car park under the Archways of the railway line. From the car park
Website: Museum of Iron
Other Useful Websites:
Email:
Address: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge
Postcode: TF8 7DQ Telephone: 01952 884391
Opening Times: All Year  10am-5pm

Charges: Use the Annual Passport as detailed above or for entry to the Museum only prices are: Adult 6.75; 60+ 6.25; Child 4.50

Nearby Locations: Darby Houses     Enginuity
Other Location Pages:

Bedlam Furnaces

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Broseley Pipeworks

Coalport China Museum

Hay Inclined Plane    Hay Inclined Plane Gallery

Jackfield Tile Museum  

Iron Bridge and Toll House

Museum of the Gorge Ironbridge

Tar Tunnel

Other Relevant Pages:

Living History Section

List of Living History Museums

Living history museums introduction

World Heritage Sites     

World Heritage Sites - Further Information

World Heritage Sites in the UK

Industrial Heritage

Anchor Points and The European Route of Industrial Heritage  

The Industrial Revolutions

Technological Developments in the Industrial Revolution

Transport in the Industrial Revolution 

Further Information on Industrial Heritage 

European Route of Industrial Heritage - UK Sites   

Notes:

 

 

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By: Tracey Park Section: Heritage Section Key:
Page Ref: Museum_of_Iron Topic: Industrial Last Updated: 10/2009

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