Industrial heritage on an industrial scale
The cradle of the Industrial Revolution lies a short drive from Telford in the Ironbridge Gorge. Here’s a guide to some of the fascinating museum sites that are dotted around the leafy gorge. All of these attractions have been visited by VisitEngland assessors.
Blists Hill Victorian Town
Just five miles from Telford, Blists Hill living history site makes a perfect family day out. Meet the Victorian townsfolk and learn about their trades and lives. Experience period shops, workshops and factories, plus tons of demonstrations, talks and Victorian amusements.
Coalport China Museum
Coalport focuses on the area’s ceramic production. The complex includes a huge bottle kiln and Victorian buildings which made up the original Coalport China factory. Enjoy displays of local pottery, watch potters in action, and you can try your hand at pottery painting.
Enginuity is just the ticket for heaps of family fun and hands-on activities at this huge collection of interactive engineering exhibits. See the world’s longest model bridge made from Lego, generate electricity from water and dams, and pull a locomotive.
Museum of the Gorge
Set within a quirky lady chapel resembling a mini cathedral, the main attraction at The Museum of the Gorge is a 12-metre long model of the Ironbridge Gorge itself, showing the area as it appeared during the Industrial Revolution.
Jackfield Tile Museum
Housed in an old tile factory, Jackfield Tile Museum celebrates the Victorian love of decorative ceramic tiles, with displays on the history and manufacture of tiles alongside a re-created pub, tube station and church. Don’t miss Fusion, a studio for local artisans.
Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron
A must-see display on the growth of the British iron industry. Check out Abraham Darby’s original blast furnace, discover exhibits from the Great Exhibition of 1851, and grab a bite in the contemporary Furnace Kitchen. There’s a kids’ trail too.
See how the other half lived with a look at the daily life of the wealthy industrialists who founded the factories and workshops of Ironbridge. The Darby family lived amid plush furnishings and decor in these two 18th-century houses overlooking Coalbrookdale.
Tar Tunnel is an eerie place - an 18th-century, brick-lined tunnel dug for an abandoned canal project. Bituminous tar now oozes into the tunnel, like black treacle; it was used as a supposed cure for rheumatism and scurvy.
The Iron Bridge & Tollhouse
This is the one that started it all; the first Iron Bridge in the world. Built across the River Severn, its mix of intricate beauty and sheer strength has been an attraction since 1779. The tollhouse exhibition tells its story.
Get a glimpse into the lost world of clay pipe-making on a guided tour through Broseley Pipeworks. Abandoned in 1957, the factory has stayed the same since then. See how disposable tobacco pipes were once made.