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University Centre Shrewsbury students are taking inspiration from Shropshire pioneers.

About 10 undergraduates visited Ironbridge this month as part of the S:PEAR (Professional, Entrepreneurial, Academic and Research Skills) programme.

The initiative brings undergraduates across all courses together every week at sessions which aim to give them the skills they need for the workplace and to work on projects which benefit the community.

During last Wednesday’s visit to Ironbridge, the students found out about how Abraham Darby I started a chain of events which changed the industrial world.

Abraham Darby I discovered that coal could be used to smelt iron and mass production of cast iron began. It was then Abraham Darby III who created the most visible legacy of his family's industrial heritage.

Believing there was nothing that could not be made from iron, he supported Shrewsbury architect, Thomas Farnolls Pritchard's plans for a bridge over the gorge. Pritchard died before the bridge could be built, but Abraham Darby III went ahead and the iconic structure was finished in 1779.

Jon Britten, Head of Academic Support said: “An important part of the S:PEAR programme is getting out and about in the county to take inspiration from the county and its forefathers.

“The programme aims to support students in gaining skills and practical experience beyond their academic programmes, and in this case they will be putting together a presentation on what sparked ideas and enthusiasm, for them, from the visit.

“In the spring we’ll focus on Charles Darwin and visit the Stiperstones.”

For more information on University Centre Shrewsbury go to, email or call 01743 297185.

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