The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in the heart of beautiful Shropshire will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a variety of events and exhibitions. In the lead-up to the 2012 Games, the area will also be marking its connection with the modern day Olympics, which were inspired by a local Much Wenlock surgeon who created the first Wenlock Olympian Games back in 1850.

Ironbridge Gorge was the birth place of the Industrial Revolution around 300 years ago. Heavy industry has long disappeared from the valley and the ironworks are silent but the stunning Severn river valley is still impressing visitors today with its iconic Iron Bridge and ten museums, which reflect life in the Gorge over the centuries.

An exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary will take place from 1st July to 30th September in the Footprint Gallery at Jackfield Tile Museum, with displays featuring historic images and community memories of the Gorge. It will also be celebrated at the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Festival on 24th September.

Several events are to be staged in the run up to the 2012 Games to celebrate the region’s links. The Shrewsbury Olympian Festival three-day extravaganza on 17-19 June will be based on the Olympian Games held in the town in 1864; the 125th Olympian Games will be held in Much Wenlock during the second week of July and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums will be hosting a series of events, activities and exhibitions as part of the West Midlands’ Cultural Olympiad, with the support of Renaissance West Midlands.