Rescue bid at Ironbridge's Bedlam Furnaces

Bedlam furnaces Image copyright Historic England
Image caption The Grade II-listed furnaces were built in the 1750s

Work is set to start to protect Ironbridge Gorge's "at risk" Bedlam Furnaces.

The 18th Century structure has close links to the birth of the Industrial Revolution, but has suffered due to the rain.

A £1.2m project will see a canopy installed over the open-air furnaces, followed by conservation work to repair masonry and stabilise the site.

The initial work on the Grade II-listed monument is due to take four months.

It has been supported by a £700,000 grant from Historic England, which proposed building a canopy at the site in 2014.

Built in the 1750s, Bedlam Furnaces were among the first specifically designed to allow iron to be smelted with coke, rather than charcoal.

The approach paved the way for mass-produced iron, Paul Gossage, from the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, said.

"They're internationally significant," he said.

"By the time we get to the 1780s almost a third of all the iron in the UK was made here in Shropshire."

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust also received £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund this week, dependent on match funding, for conservation and restoration work at nearby Coalbrookdale, often referred to as "the cradle of the Industrial Revolution".

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