Ironbridge  Guide
Ironbridge Tourist Information & Visitor Guide

Ironbridge - Town Centre and East

Tontine Hotel [18]

Tontine Hotel & St Lukes Church

Directly across from the bridge is the Tontine Hotel. The word Tontine is a noun “an annuity scheme by which several subscribers invest in a common fund out of which they receive an annuity that increases as subscribers die until the last survivor takes all!”.

The idea of building a hotel here started as soon as people realised the attraction of the Iron Bridge. Those involved in the venture included Abraham Darby III, Samuel Darby, William & Richard Reynolds, John Wilkinson, Joseph Rathbone and others who in the construction of the bridge.

The hotel opened in 1784. Inside are Victorian fireplaces with the traditional tiles of the area, photographs showing the area in different stages, with coracle men and their coracles, people standing on the river under the bridge when it froze 5th February 1917, collections of old local bottles etc.

Above the hotel stands St Luke’s church, made of yellow brick, it was built in 1836. It is open to the public by prior arrangement, however a trip up to the grounds is well worth it for the view. Just to the right of the Tontine Hotel is a set of 100 plus steps which climb the hillside, through a tunnel and eventually bring you directly into the churchyard which has a bench waiting for you to sit on for a rest.

From here you can almost feel like Mary Poppins soaring above the roof tops and chimney pots of the town and even above the seagulls that swoop down to the river. You get a great view of the huge variety of architecture - with designs including Elizabethan, Gothic, Provincial, Classical and across the river you will see in the woods some timber frame houses.

After a rest, you may opt to walk a little further uphill to South Side Gardens which you will find on your left. These are woodland gardens hanging on the hillside and have more benches for you to rest some more while taking in the views. You can then follow the path back downhill, winding behind the little houses and gardens and eventually end up back on the main street.

Return back to The Square and walk further on past the remaining shops you will reach a round about with 2 estate agents. Directly on your left is Church Hill. There is a finance company and an estate agent office directly to the right which has more evidence of the Victorian tiles that were made in the Jackfield area.

Directly to the right of the estate agent is a road signed for Dawley (B4373). For football fans - the birthplace of William Ambrose (Billy) Wright 1924-1994 at 33 Holly Cottage , Belmont Road, about 3 houses up on the right side with a red door. “Billy” was captain with Wolverhampton Wanderers and England.


Across from Belmont Road, on the main road, on the right is John W. Fletcher’s Memorial School, a Wesleyan Infant School (now private), this has a very interesting combination of coloured brickwork and tiles and has a plaque on the tower in Fletcher’s memory stating that he was 25 years a vicar of the parish.

A bit further uphill to the left of Jockey bank is a large Wesleyan Chapel (now private). Take a right and go down Jockey Bank and you will face The Golden Ball supposedly the oldest licenced pub in Ironbridge, it’s first licence being 1728. It has only had 14 different landlord’s names from 1828-the present, so it stayed within families for a long time.

Returning to the main road and the roundabout at the end of the square, you will now see another estate agent and in front of their office is a fine example of a Coalbrookdale street lamp dated 1898.

Bear left onto Waterloo Street. On your right is what was The Old Police Station. The blue brick and its iron gate frontage makes it a bit unusual.

On your left is another pay and display car park, have a drive in and directly to the back on the edge of the hill is a fountain in the shape of an obelisk, built in 1862 (the same year the railway arrived in Ironbridge). The fountain is in memory to Reverend John Bartlett M.A. “A man whose constant desire to alleviate the temporal wants of others was only exceeded by his concern for their spiritual welfare”.

Continue down the Waterloo Street, alongside the river on your left you will arrive at Bedlam Furnaces.

Bedlam Furnaces [19]

Bedlam Furnace

The Bedlam Furnaces were one of the earliest furnaces to use coke instead of coal to smelt iron. They were blast furnaces which meant there was a blast of air generated from water powered bellows.

There were 2 furnaces and engine room and the bellows. Coalbrookdale purchased these furnaces in 1776 (date of the American Independence!). There was also a brickyard above this furnace area for a time. The site was made an ancient monument in 1973.


Ironbridge Tour

1. Buildwas
2. Buildwas - The Bridge
3. The Power Station
4. The Valley Hotel
5. The Greenwood Trust
6. Coalbrookdale
7. Aga-Rayburn
8. Coalbrookdale - Paradise
9. Coalbrookdale - Museums
10. Holy Trinity Church
11. Ironbridge - West
12. Ironbridge - The Wharfage
13. The Iron Bridge
14. Town Centre and East
15. Jackfield - West
16. Jackfield - East
17. Coalport & Blists Hill
18. Broseley
19. Benthall
Useful links

For escorted tours of the Ironbridge Gorge please visit:
Shropshire Tour Guides
Copyright © Paul & Sabine Hutchinson