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BBC News





The Geography Department


Coalbrookdale  October 2005



The River Severn has cut the Ironbridge Gorge and was running hard after heavy rains in Wales - the photograph failing to capture the distinctly turbid brown of the flow!


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The site where it all began for the Darby's of Coalbrookdale. This is the site of two of the gorge museums, the Museum of Iron and the Darby Houses. The former recalls the development of iron-making in the gorge, and has some useful historical dioramas. The houses, at the top of the hill, and can be seen best in the centre photo, is a conventional museum and too dry for children and teenagers. Trains still roll over the viaduct. The pyramid on the right houses the remains of the first blast-furnace on the site.

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The real of the museums is Enginuity, a fully hands-on science and engineering hall where you can learn the principles and the operation of many of today's machines. Everything worked - and it beats Eureka, no trouble! The whole family had plenty to do in an atmosphere where it was clear the staff were keen and motivated - they wanted you to enjoy yourselves and learn at the same time.

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On the left is the entrance to Blists Hill, a Victorian town and open-air museum.


On the right is part of the main street, where craftsmen work and shops and industry operate. Authenticity is of a high order .. as you have the chance to change your money into Victorian coin as you enter!

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A half-scale mock up of the frame for bridging the Ironbridge Gorge.


The houses of the town, mostly recreated around the original ironworks, and a mine-shaft next to the canal - an original feature.


The winding gear for the mine.

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The photographs above are recreations of Trevithick's first locomotive - called 'Locomotive'!

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The wrought ironworks shed.


Casting still takes place inside.


Discarded wagons, but of what vintage?

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The blast furnaces, built into the hill.

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A great lump of slag from the iron-making process.

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A general view of the open area below the recreated houses and shops. A period funfair has been put in and there are areas to picnic. Nearby are these fine pigs, some in their sty (large photo) and on the right just rooting about!

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Some views of the Inclined Plane, a steam-hauled device for getting iron from the valley sides down to the Severn for onward shipment. The site can be reached from the main body at Blists Hill simply by following the canal, or wandering through the woods like us.


The bottom of the ramp is at the roadside through the valley floor. The right-hand photo shows the murky (and silted) canal and the ramps for bringing up the tubs to the top of the incline.

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