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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron wins prestigious honour

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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron has won a prestigious honour for its work in marking the Industrial Revolution.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is recognising the attraction for restoring a furnace used by Abraham Darby more than 300 years ago that marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

The machine helped pioneer the use of coke, rather than charcoal, as a fuel for smelting iron in Coalbrookdale back in 1709.

Now the Old Furnace is to be recognised with a prestigious award in recognition of being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

The furnace forms part of the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron complex and is cared for by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Engineering Heritage Award will be presented tomorrow.

Previous winners of the award, which recognises artefacts of engineering significance, include Concorde, the Mallard locomotive and the code-breaking Bombe at Bletchley Park.

The awards were set up in 1984 and tomorrow's event will be the 100th presentation to a significant engineering artefact.

John Wood, chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Heritage Committee, said: "The Old Furnace marks the beginning of the industrial age and it is hard to imagine what world we would live in if not for the innovation and vision of people like Abraham Darby.

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"This award recognises not only the work of those early pioneers like Darby and the people at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust who have so ably kept the early days of the industrial revolution alive, but also the engineering spirit of innovation and progress."

Arts Council England also awarded the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, which includes the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, a funding boost of £864,000 last month. The museums will now be responsible for helping provide professional advice to support other smaller museums.

Anna Brennand, chief executive of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said the trustees, staff and volunteers were delighted .

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