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Coalbrookdale and the Industrial Revolution - Explain why the Iron Bridge was built and assess its impact on the surrounding area.

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Coalbrookdale and the Industrial Revolution Question 1: Explain why the Iron Bridge was built and assess its impact on the surrounding area. The Iron Bridge first constructed in 1779 and completed in 1781 was built for many reasons. The most important reasons being the terrible weather conditions and the frequent flooding of the river Severn, sometime the water levels reaching extreme heights, also an increase in industry in that area. Before the bridge was built ferries were used to ship goods across the river but during winter months and spring the river was inaccessible. The nearest bridge was over a mile away in the adjacent town. People were not happy with the ferries as Shadrax Fox experienced "The journey normally was no more than a ten minute episode but we were pushed hither and thither by the wind tossed waves. I clung to the sides as the little vessel was swept downstream... after a full three quarters of an hour we reached the shore" - Shadrax Fox, 1704 Some people were not so lucky as Shadrax Fox and on the night of 22nd October 1799, 27 people drowned when the ferry overturned. ...read more.


The Coalport china factory was at one point the largest in the world. Darby also built a church which he funded and religious people liked this. Tourism was helped by it greatly and a market was set up as well. It wasn't just the town of Ironbridge which was affected; it affected many worldwide industries. Question 2: Explain how the Darby family ran their business and behaved as employers in the 18th and 19th centuries. How far would you agree that they used methods which were usual at the time? The Darby Family were Quakers, a strict religious group with ideas based on peace, love and equality. This had a dramatic effect on how they treated their workers. During this period of time there were no laws to protect workers so most employers during this time exploited and treated their workers badly and could get away with it. The Darby family provided their workers with housing, schools, shops and pubs. They believed that children should have the right to education and would not let them work in the business until they had been educated. ...read more.


The Railway didn't even reach Coalbrookdale until 1862 whilst other areas had making it much more difficult for transportation. Also the cost of Iron fell meaning that they weren't gaining as much profit. As the Iron industry had been around much longer than its competitors the raw materials began to run low and they were having to dig deeper mines and go out further. As this was a family business the management changed but the selection didn't always reflect on the skills and vocation of the manager. As in the case of Francis Darby in 1818 he was much more artistic and running a business didn't interest him. However, there was a period of improvement as Darby IV changed the market so it was more artistic rather than industrial. Yet once the fashions changed again there was a steep decline. Darby IV converted to be an Anglican so without the morals of a Quaker, life became a lot harder for the workers and many redundancies were made causing a lot of unemployment. Industry really began to stoop low when after Blists Hill furnaces shut down, Coalport china closed and finally in 1925 the Darbys sold the Iron works in 1925. ...read more.

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