Seen all the museums, or just like to get off the beaten track? Here are 5 lesser known features of Ironbridge Gorge not to be missed!
- Bedlam Furnaces
Bedlam Furnaces were built in the 1750s and were some of the first to be purpose built for making iron with coke rather than charcoal. It is now thought that elements of the Iron Bridge were made here. The furnaces are located on Waterloo Street, a 10 minute walk east along the River Severn from the Iron Bridge. There is work going on at the minute to build a cover structure over the furnaces so you can’t get close, but still worth a look!
- The Sabbath Walks and the Rotunda
The Sabbath Walks are woodland paths laid out between Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale. You can pick up a leaflet or follow the finger posts towards the Rotunda. This was a bandstand like structure located with panoramic views down across the Gorge built in the late 18th century. While only the foundations now survive, the views are still amazing. It’s a steep 10 minute walk up steps from Dale End car park in Ironbridge (where there are signs showing the route) but very much worth the trek!
- Pattens Rock Quarry
Another steep walk but on the other side of the Gorge from the Rotunda. Walking from the southern side of the Iron Bridge along the old Severn Valley railway line you can follow finger posts to a huge old quarry where limestone was once extracted in vast quantities.
- Hay Inclined Plane
The Hay Inclined Plane links the River Severn with the mines located in what is now Blists Hill Victorian Town. The incredible structure was used to haul boats between canals at the top and bottom of the steep slope, using gravity and counter-balance to move heavy loads. You can see the Inclined Plane from both Blists Hill and Coalport (right next to the Tar Tunnel!).
- Bower Yard Lime Kiln
Limestone quarried from the top of the Gorge was used as flux in iron making and was also burnt in limekilns to make quicklime. One of the limekilns of the Gorge has been restored and is well worth a visit if you are walking on the southern side of the River. It is only a short walk along the Severn Valley Way walking westwards from the Iron Bridge.
By Coralie Acheson
Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage