Abraham Darby’s Old Furnace in Coalbrookdale is among 10 industry, trade and commerce places chosen today (4 May 2018) by V&A Director Tristram Hunt, for inclusion in Historic England’s campaign Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places, sponsored by specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical.
The campaign aims to find the 100 places that bring to life England’s rich and extraordinary history. Historic England received 799 public nominations for the Industry, Trade & Commerce category, the highest received in any classification.
The Old Furnace is widely regarded as the catalyst for the start of the Industrial Revolution, which transformed England and the world. Iron production was not new to this area but it was in this furnace that Abraham Darby I pioneered the method of smelting iron fuelled by coke (heated coal), rather than charcoal (heated wood). This allowed the furnace to become incredibly hot and meant that high quality iron could be produced on an industrial scale. Bridges, buildings and railways, the backbone of the Industrial Revolution, all began to be constructed using iron, which paved the way for the modern world.
Commenting on his choice, category judge Tristram Hunt, said: “The work of Abraham Darby was revolutionary in providing the power, energy and might that would transform the steel and cotton industries and generate the wealth from which modern Britain emerged”.
Anna Brennand, Chief Executive Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust commented; “The staff, volunteers and trustees of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust are delighted that Tristram Hunt has chosen Abraham Darby’s Old Furnace as one of the top places in the country to discover the industrial and commercial history of the UK.
“The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site is known as the Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and nearly every company in the country can find a historic connection with the innovations that were made in Coalbrookdale.
“Each year thousands of visitors from across the world flock to the Ironbridge Gorge and its 10 museums to gain a greater understanding of our industrial heritage and explore its natural beauty. We believe that context is everything and the Old Furnace and our other museums, all of which are based in original industrial buildings, offer a unique opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the monumental story of innovation, entrepreneurship and how Coalbrookdale changed the world forever”.
The 10 places Tristram Hunt has chosen, including the Old Furnace, will be explored in depth in new podcast episodes free on iTunes and Soundcloud, presented by historian Suzannah Lipscomb and featuring Tristram Hunt. To listen to the podcast visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/irreplaceable-a-history-of-england-in-100-places/id1286786238 and join the conversation using #100Places.
Further information about the Old Furnace can be found at www.ironbridge.org.uk.