Bedlam Furnaces, one of the most important industrial monuments in the Ironbridge Gorge, has been taken off Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, thanks to the construction of a protective canopy by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, with the support of Historic England and the Ironbridge (Telford) Heritage Foundation.
The furnaces were amongst the first in the country to be built specifically to smelt iron with coke, and research suggests much of the ironwork for the famous bridge was cast there. Now they are believed to be the last furnaces of their type that remain largely intact.
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s Anna Brennand said, “The structures are a unique reminder of the scale of the iron industry in Shropshire; by 1788 a third of all iron smelted in Great Britain was being made in the county. The Trust started conducting archaeological studies on the furnaces in the 1970s. This greatly increased our understanding of industrial ironworking during this period; however, more recent reports revealed that the structure was deteriorating rapidly and it was subsequently put on the At Risk Register.”
Following an extensive fundraising campaign, the Trust secured £1.2million, including a generous grant from Historic England of £700,000 to build a canopy over the furnaces, and restoration work started over the summer.