Iron Bridge House

Ironbridge, Shropshire

Overview

This substantial house overlooks the spectacular Severn gorge. It sits right at the point where the world’s first entire iron bridge was built. Iron Bridge House is an ideal base to explore the museums, sites and the beautiful landscape that provided the wood, ore and water of this cradle of the Industrial Revolution.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
4
4 nights from
£312 equivalent to £19.50 per person, per night

The premises of a significant grocer

Iron Bridge House is the complete establishment of a substantial grocer, with a large house over a double-fronted shop (now let to the Ironbridge Gorge Musuem) and all the offices behind, from storerooms to stables. A tunnel used to run from the cellars to the bank of the River Severn, Cargo was brought up in by barge until the late 19th century. The sales particulars said ‘These premises have been occupied by the Firm of Messrs Egerton Smith & Sons for many years. They were specially built, at great cost, by the late Mr Smith and occupy a Unique Position in Ironbridge.’ They certainly are unique, overlooking that harbinger of our age, both forerunner and survivor, the Iron Bridge.

The beginnings of industry on your doorstep

In our early years, when Landmark still benefited from the private trust fund of our founder John Smith and was able to make such acquisitions, we had no hesitation in snapping this house up to prevent its inappropriate development. The bedrooms are on the top two floors. The living room has a fine iron fireplace cast here in Coalbrookdale and this and every other room face the river, the bridge and the steep woods on the bank of the gorge beyond. It is a wonderful place to be, with coal smoke drifting against the trees and the sun glittering on the rather muddy Severn as it flows inexhaustibly below Abraham Darby’s iron arch. All around, in Coalport, Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale, are the remains of industry’s beginnings.

‘this makes an unbeatable base for exploring the museums, sites and landscape of the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.’

The Sunday Telegraph

‘The views from the house are superb and because you are so far up you can people-watch all day without being seen.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Iron Bridge House enjoys a unique position as the closest building to the Iron Bridge and with that privilege comes magnificent views of the Severn flowing beneath the famous iron arch. The many museums of the Iron Bridge Gorge are also on your doorstep.

Each year the town hosts The Ironbridge Walking Festival during which walkers can participate in expert-led walks of varying lengths, and enjoy the beautiful landscape during the spring. 

Benthall Hall and Buildwas Abbey are both within easy distance of Ironbridge House, offering interesting days out for all the family to enjoy. 

Bilsts Hill Victorian Town is also always popular with children, where you can find out what it was like to live in a Victorian town. 

Close by are the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums, two of which are Museum of the Gorge (0.4 miles) and Jackfield Tile Museum (4.6 miles). You can gain free entry to them with a National Art Pass, which enables its 122,000 holders to enjoy free and discounted entry to over 225 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK. The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it on the ArtFund's website http://www.artfund.org/


 Take a look at our Pinterest Map for more ideas of things to see and do during your stay at Iron Bridge House.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Iron Bridge House
Ironbridge, Shropshire
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Telford – 5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes – there is parking for one car only. There is a flight of steps from the parking area up to the entrance to the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also a gas cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are not particularly steep although it should be noted that there are a number of steps.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    No.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
History

'The most extraordinary district in the world'

The landscape of Ironbridge has a particularly complex history and Iron Bridge House was erected during the proudest and most self-confident stage of that history, when the area could aptly be described as 'the most extraordinary district in the world'. The wealth of the Severn Gorge was determined by its geology. The river cuts through the rich mineral seams of the carboniferous measures and at the same time provided a means of carrying away the produce of those seams.

As early as the 16th century the Severn was a great commercial highway linking mid-Wales to the Bristol Channel. In the reign of Elizabeth I began the large-scale exploitation of the minerals of the Gorge and coal from Broseley and Madeley was carried up and downstream by barge to become the staple fuel of the Severn Valley from Welshpool to Gloucester. Numerous industries making use of the local coal grew up in the Gorge: potteries, saltworks, tar distilleries and tobacco pipe manufacturers. Just across the river from Iron Bridge House is a timber-framed building which in the early 18th century was part of a lead-smelting complex, one of several in the district using ore brought downstream from mid-Wales and fuelled by the cheap local coal and forwarding their pig lead to Bristol. The iron industry was established in the area in the Middle Ages, but it did not achieve any national significance until 1709, when at Coalbrookdale Abraham Darby I first successfully smelted iron ore with coke.

For about half a century, from 1755 onwards, the east Shropshire coalfield was the foremost ironworking area in Great Britain. Many of the most important innovations both in ironmaking technology and in the application of iron were pioneered there. It attracted visitors, both those with an interest in technology and those who merely wished to be thrilled by the sight of blazing furnaces in a spectacular setting, from all over the world.

In the mid-1770s the Severn Gorge was a rough, open area, dotted with cottages and pock-marked with coal and iron ore mines. Horses drew waggons along primitive railways, carrying ore to the furnaces at Coalbrookdale and Madeley Wood and coal to the riverside for sale along the Severn. Where the Iron Bridge now stands there formerly plied a ferry boat but few travellers other than local people used it, for the riverside was almost unapproachable by road. The first steps towards the erection of a bridge were taken in 1774 but it was not until New Year's Day 1781 that the bridge was opened to traffic. The provider of the greater part of the money for the scheme and the manager of the whole construction process was Abraham Darby III of the Coalbrookdale ironworks. This was the first iron bridge in the world and it was recognised and promoted by the proprietors as a unique achievement.

The ancient market of Madeley, which dated from the reign of Henry IlI, had lapsed by the beginning of the 18th century but was revived in 1763. The north end of the Iron Bridge lay in the parish of Madeley and to it the market was transferred in the 1780s. This seems to have been largely the decision of Richard Reynolds, the Quaker ironmaster, partner of Abraham Darby III at Coalbrookdale and Lord of the Manor of Madeley. He was responsible in about 1800 for starting a short-lived cattle and pig market in the area and the market place still belonged to his descendants in the mid-19th century. Iron Bridge House reflects the prosperity of the market centre that Reynolds and his collaborators established. It is a substantial six-bedroomed house over a double-fronted shop, with store rooms linked by trap doors, a pulley (which still survives) in the roof and various offices, stables, coach houses, cellars and a 'bacon drying house' adjoining. It was probably built by one Henry Smith whose imposing bill headings reflect not just pride in his own premises, but an awareness of their situation, next to the first iron bridge in the world.

By the 1840s Smith was working in partnership with one Charles Price and also with a Charles Smith, probably his son, who combined the trade of ironmonger with that of grocer. Charles Price's household in 1851 was typical of that of a prosperous Victorian shopkeeper. As well as his wife and three children, it included an assistant and two apprentices, two nurses and a house servant.

Ironbridge was then a thriving commercial centre with several inns, a post office, a printing shop, a subscription Iibrary, a dispensary, a bank, various doctors' surgeries, lawyers' offices and a range of splendid shops, of which Iron Bridge House was perhaps the most imposing.

The prosperity of Ironbridge was sustained by the opening of the Severn Valley Railway in 1862. Ironbridge and Broseley station was at the south end of the bridge and the numerous travellers from the Madeley area to Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth or beyond all had to cross the bridge, thus bringing more trade to the shopkeepers at its northern end.

The coming of the railway brought about the declining of the river traffic. By the 1860s none of the provisions sold at the shop in Iron Bridge House would have been brought up the river by barge, and by 1900 there were no longer any cargo-carrying barges at all on the Shropshire portion of the Severn. The decline of local industry from the late 19th century onwards diminished the trade of Ironbridge and while the designation of Telford New Town in the 1960s began to restore prosperity to the district as a whole, competition from other shopping centres and heavy road traffic have brought about the closure of many of the shops in lronbridge, although, happily, the Friday open air market still flourishes. At the same time the growing recognition that the monuments of the Industrial Revolution are as much part of our history as stately homes or ruined abbeys brought increasing numbers of visitors to see the bridge. The Iron Bridge is a monument of international importance. The market place at its northern end was laid out as a direct consequence of the building of the bridge and is a testament to the bridge builders that they had created something unique, which at the same time provided opportunities for profitable speculation and demanded an appropriate setting. Iron Bridge House is an elegant and essential part of that setting.

In 1835 the land on which the building now stands was sold to Henry Smith, grocer, for the sum of £1,400. The seller was William Smith, who had bought the land in 1827 from the family of Richard Reynolds, partner of Abraham Darby III.

In 1861 Henry Smith died, leaving the property so that his son Egerton William Smith might carry on the business. By 1916 it was bought by R. A. Jones for £550. His widow Mrs Jones sold it to J. C. Lloyd and Sons, a grocery and off-licence business, in 1949. They in turn sold it to Federated Properties Ltd., who in 1972 sold it to the Landmark Trust. In 1978 the Trust leased the ground floor shop to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

Restoration

Many alterations had to be made

This building was bought by the Landmark Trust in 1972. For some time the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust occupied the ground floor under temporary licence and used it as a shop, but in 1975 work on the restoration began. This involved repaving the full width in front of the shop, the old bricks being mostly broken. In the interior, many alterations had to be made for the benefit of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, which occupies the basement and ground floor and which needed storage and display space and a strong room.

As well as replastering and redecorating throughout the building, it was necessary to replace some of the first-floor joists and to remake the ceiling, which was fireproofed. New window-frames and doors were also provided and the house was divided in two, providing one flat for the tenants, Mr and Mrs Hickman, who had been living in the building before the Landmark Trust bought it and who agreed to act as caretakers and a second to be let to Landmarkers. The fireplace that was in the shop was moved to the Landmark sitting-room. New heating was installed. The restoration was finished by 1977 and the improved ground floor and basement premises were leased to the lronbridge Gorge Museum Trust in 1978.

The architect of the restoration was George Robb, FRIBA, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, and the building work was carried out by Messrs.W. A. Sherratt Ltd. of Church Stretton, Salop and Messrs.Geo.Linnecor & Son (Midlands) Ltd.of Bridgnorth.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.