Updated: Sep 21, 2021
We use the Usborne History of Britain Flap book as our guide to history and so far it's been really fun.
Recently we got to the section on the Georgians and with it, the Industrial Revolution. I tend to pick out what I think is really important for my children to learn about and I wasn't too concerned with them brushing up on their Georgian time's knowledge. But the Industrial Revolution was and is an important time in British History, the beginning of a modern world.
I absolutely love taking the boys on day trips to places that we can see, touch and feel and that I believe strengthens their learning so I wanted to find somewhere we could explore and talk about the Industrial Revolution. We decided on Ironbridge Gorge in Telford, the birthplace of the world's first cast-iron bridge.
Although the Iron Bridge is classified as an English Heritage site, it's free to enter but the car parking is not free. There's plenty of car parks in and around the area if you look online. In the old days, people would be charged to cross the bridge, and the toll house is still there for you to pop in to, and take a look. Sadly, we didn't get the chance.
Ironbridge Gorge is known throughout the world as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. But no longer is the beautiful town beyond the bridge a place of busy factories and bustling streets. Instead, something quite charming and beautiful awaits you.
The Iron Bridge's story began in the early 18th century, in the nearby village of Coalbrookdale. Abraham Darby pioneered the smelting of iron using coke, a process that was a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. It was Abraham Darby III who cast the ironwork for the bridge that still stands today, using the same techniques developed by his grandfather. The bridge was so successful that it gave its name to the spectacular wooded valley which surrounds it, now recognised as the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. The views from the Bridge are spectacular.
Once you cross the bridge there's a beautiful street that looks like it stopped in time, retaining a lot of its original charm. From here, you can sit on a bench with ice cream and enjoy the views, or pop into one of the pubs for a cold drink.
If you turn left at the end of the Bridge, you can walk along the street until you get to Dale End Park. Enjoy the views along the way, perhaps even dip your feet in the river, and then let the kids have fun in the park. Perhaps take a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful gardens right next to the park.
There's plenty to do in the area, tea rooms and of course, the Iron Bridge Gorge Museums. We decided to make this a cheap day so didn't visit any, but here's the website if you want to make a day of it. https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/
Ironbridge is definitely worth a visit. The bridge itself is a marvel and with the museums, there's certainly lots of learning to be done. I think we will go back again soon and visit the museums next time, but just as an introduction to the Industrial Revolution, this was a wonderful start.