Ironbridge is a small town on the River Severn, at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England. It lies in the civil parish of The Gorge, in the borough of Telford and Wrekin. Ironbridge developed beside, and takes its name from, the famous Iron Bridge, a 30 metre (100 ft) cast iron bridge that was built across the river there in 1779. The grandson of the first Abraham Darby, Abraham Darby III, built the famous bridge – originally designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard – to link the two areas. Construction began in 1779 and the bridge opened on New Year’s Day 1781. By the 19th century, Ironbridge had had many well-known visitors, including Benjamin Disraeli, but by the mid-20th century the village was in decline. In 1986, though, Ironbridge became part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which covers the wider Ironbridge Gorge area) and has become a major tourist attraction within Shropshire. Most industries in Ironbridge are now tourist related; however, the Merrythought teddy bear company (established in 1930) is still manufacturing in Ironbridge and has a small museum there too . Amongst other things, the village is still host to a Post Office, pharmacy, various pubs, cafés and many successful small shops.
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