History explorer: The power of British iron
Nige Tassell and Richard Hayman explore Ironbridge Gorge, the crucible of one of the most important developments of the industrial revolution
On an unhurried, sunny spring afternoon, the Shropshire village of Ironbridge resembles a rural idyll barely touched by the industrial world. The river Severn slips gently by, its banks full and verdant, while daytrippers divide their time between its ice-cream parlours and its excellent secondhand bookshop. Across the road, a gaggle of French schoolchildren hold up their phones to take pictures of the structure that gave both the village and the gorge its name.