The area around Ironbridge is described as the “Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution” and is based on the idea that Abraham Darby perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke, in Coalbrookdale, allowing the much cheaper production of iron. However, the industrial revolution did not “begin” in one place, but in many.
Smelting iron by Darby was but one small part of this generalised revolution and was soon superseded by the great iron-smelting areas. However, the bridge – being the first of its kind fabricated from cast iron, and one of the few which have survived to the present day – remains an important symbol representative of the dawn of the industrial age.
The grandson of the first Abraham Darby, Abraham Darby III, built the famous bridge – originally designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard – beginning in 1779 and opening on New Year’s Day 1781. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironbridge)