Today, Ironbridge looks like a picture-postcard village, its handsome Georgian and Victorian houses tumbling past hanging woods down to the swirling waters of the river Severn.
But 230 years ago this corner of rural Shropshire presented a Satanic, industrial scene, the hillsides aflame with iron furnaces, smoke belching into the skies, the river black with soot.
And there at the centre of the village, arching over the Severn, is the structure that, more than any other, signifies the Industrial Revolution.
The Iron Bridge gave its name to the surrounding settlement, and was the first cast iron bridge in the world, built by Abraham Darby III in 1779. It was also the first free-standing iron structure,…