Making Iron

Henry VIII

Iron has been made in Ironbridge from the time of Henry VIII.

New way of making iron

In 1709 Abraham Darby I, found away of making cheaper and better quality iron much faster than had ever before been possible. He used coke as fuel instead of charcoal which was made from trees.


What is coke?

Coke is charcoal made from coal. The coal is baked at high temperatures in blast furnaces.

Why did Darby choose Ironbridge?

Darby chose the area around Ironbridge to manufacture because the gorge, cut out by flood water, made raw materials easily accessible.

The River Severn was also a quick and easy transport route to take the coal to other places around the UK and also to other countries.



How was iron made before 1709?

Up to 1709, furnaces could only use wood charcoal to produce iron. Many industries used this charcoal and so lots of trees were cut down.  During the late 16th and early 17th century,the growth these industries using charcoal gave rise to concerns about deforestation.

Iron-making became more difficult due to shortage of charcoal, and due to laws limiting its use. Darby’s discovery was thus very welcomed and a huge benefit too.