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The Darby furnace at Coalbrookdale
Coalbrookdale is a village in the Ironbridge Gorge. It was the site of the furnace where Abraham Darby first smelted iron ore using "coking coal", a major factor in the start of the Industrial Revolution. The furnace is now preserved as part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.[1]

The Coalbrookdale Company

The Coalbrookdale Company was formed by Abraham Darby I in 1709 when he acquired the lease to the Coalbrookdale furnace. In 1768 his grandson Abraham Darby III began to produce the first cast-iron rails for railways, and in 1778 began casting parts for the world's first cast-iron bridge at Ironbridge which opened in 1780.[2]

In 1802 the Company made the high pressure boiler and engine for one of Richard Trevithick’s early locomotives, a predecessor of Catch Me Who Can.[2] It also built a number of its own standard gauge steam locomotives of which Number 5, built in 1865, is preserved as an exhibit in Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums based at the Coalbrookdale site.[1]

The Coalbrookdale Company was responsible for the manufacture of the ironwork of Victoria Bridge, which was built between 1859 and 1861, and Albert Edward Bridge. It had previously produced the ironwork for Brooksmouth Bridge, built in 1828, which can be seen from the SVRSevern Valley Railway near Borle Viaduct. The 39ft diameter waterwheel wheel at Daniel's Mill was also cast by the Company circa 1855.

Railways associated with Coalbrookdale

Coalbrookdale is situated on the opposite bank of the River Severn from the Severn Valley Railway.

The first plans for the Severn Valley Railway proposed that the north end of the line should proceed towards Coalbrookdale. However following public meetings in October 1852, a route towards Shrewsbury was ultimately built instead.[3]

Coalbrookdale Station
Consequently, Coalbrookdale was served by a station on the GWRGreat Western Railway's Wellington to Craven Arms Branch which crossed the Severn Valley Branch at Buildwas. Passenger services commenced 1 November 1864. Albert Edward Bridge provided the river crossing between Buildwas and Coalbrookdale.

Passenger services were withdrawn from 23 July 1962. The line was subsequently used by coal and other freight trains travelling to Ironbridge power station until its closure in November 2015.[note 1] Prior to that time, on 14 November 2009 Vintage Trains' The SLS Special railtour visited Coalbrookdale using double headed panniers 9466 and 9600. The tour later arrived at the SVRSevern Valley Railway where the locos were serviced before a final return to Tyseley.[4]

In 2019 the line was mooted by Network Rail (NRNetwork Rail) to be mothballed. Telford Steam RailwayTelford Horsehay Steam Trust Limited, a Charitable heritage railway located at Horsehay, Telford with proposals for running heritage trains into the Ironbridge Gorge and onto the former GWR Severn Valley branch. set out plans to extend southwards through the station.[5]

See also

Ironbridge power station


  1. Six Bells Junction website includes several modern traction railtours in this period, and at least two steam tours


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shropshire History
  3. Marshall (1989) pp. 21-22.
  4. Six Bells Junction
  5. 'Steaming to Ironbridge', Telford Steam Railway website (Retrieved 29 April 2024)