Description and Background
The Ironbridge Gorge is one of Britain’s first World Heritage Sites, inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 1986. The Ironbridge Gorge is of universal significance for its unique role in the development of the Industrial Revolution that largely originated in Britain in the eighteenth century and later spread across the world. A key part was the creative effort of Abraham Darby I who discovered the production technique of smelting iron using coke instead of charcoal in 1709.
Each World Heritage Site has a statement of outstanding universal value and the one for the Ironbridge Gorge points to: The site contains substantial remains of mines, pit mounds , spoil heaps, foundries, factories, workshops, warehouses, Ironmaster’s and worker’s housing, public buildings, infrastructure and transport systems, together with traditional landscape and forests of the Severn Gorge.
Most of this traditional landscape of the World Heritage Site, some 260 hectares in all, is managed by SGCT. This includes over 60 historic structures from two hundred year old clinker walls to two of the largest restored original lime kilns at the base of Benthall Edge to the cold stores of the original Madeley Wood Hall in Lloyds Coppice. We use traditional techniques to conserve these structures including lime mortar.
SGCT is a member of the World Heritage Site Steering Group, along with a number of other partners, and plays a key role in managing the natural and historic landscape which includes many areas established by the original Quaker Ironmasters for recreational use for the iron workers. This includes Dale Coppice, Lincoln Hill and Captains coppice, planted in the 1780’s by William Reynolds as a part of marketing the area close to the new Iron Bridge to visitors as well as providing recreational walks for his worker’s families on their day of rest on the Sabbath.
SCGT has the complex task to balance this historic and archaeological interest with that of very high quality sites for nature conservation, including two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as well as practising high quality land management, producing timber, hay, green hay for meadow restoration, venison and Soay sheep’s wool.
Our sites are well used by the one million plus visitors to the area per annum and are well loved by local people, many of which are actively involved in the area’s management through our volunteer programme. We have an Outdoor Learning programme which has taught techniques from iron smelting to lime mortar production in relation to the history of the World Heritage Site.
Choose from one of the options on the left to learn more about this incredible area and the modern day engineering challenges we have to overcome to maintain it.
To view a map of the boundary of the World Heritage Site Click here