Today I spent a thoroughly enjoyable and informative couple of hours at The Mailbox shopping centre in Birmingham, where I bumped into no less a figure than Abraham Darby – the father of the Industrial Revolution.
It was Darby who, in 1709 at the Coalbrookdale foundry, ignited the worldwide Industrial Revolution by being the first to smelt iron ore with coke to make cast-iron cooking pots.
The illustrious inventor and industrialist was at The Mailbox for the first-ever Birmingham Made Me Design Expo, part of a campaign to turn the spotlight on the long heritage and bright future of Midlands manufacturing and the role the region’s companies can play in supporting the wider UK economy.
Also among the audience fascinated by the 150 exhibits on display at The Mailbox were former Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Digby Jones, Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, and my old friend, Emma Bridgewater.
And among the exhibits was the innovative AGA iTotal Control, which is manufactured at the very same historic Coalbrookdale foundry where Abraham Darby made his groundbreaking discovery.