December 5, 2023


education gives you strength

Science and innovation: 11 groundbreaking places to visit in the UK | The power of firsts

Iron Bridge
In a town hailed as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the Iron Bridge is a magnificent symbol of its history. The first bridge in the world constructed from iron and now a Unesco world heritage site, its impressive arch stretches over the River Severn below.
Ironbridge, Telford, Shropshire, TF8 7JP

55 Broadway
It may seem relatively dinky compared with some of today’s towers, but thanks to its construction method of stone encasing a steel frame, this grade I art deco building overlooking St James’s Park became London’s first skyscraper in 1921. Don’t miss the sculptures that adorn the exterior.
Westminster, London, SW1H 0BD

Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong’s Northumberland home – now a National Trust property – is full of gadgets that were ahead of their time, including fire alarm buttons and an early dishwasher. But it is most notable for being the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power.
Morpeth, NE65 7PX

Iron Bridge, the Colussus computer at the National Museum of Computing, and the Falkirk Wheel.

First red phone box, Royal Academy of Arts
Perched in the entrance gates to the Royal Academy of Arts are two iconic pieces of British design. On one side sits Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s 1924 winning entry in a competition to design a new phone box. On the other side of the gate is one of the first cast-iron red phone boxes created from his wooden prototype design.
Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 0BD

The National Museum of Computing
Located next to Bletchley Park is the world’s largest collection of historic computers, including Colossus, a computer that played a vital role in cracking Nazi codes during the second world war.
Bletchley Park, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB

South Cliff lift
Running from the esplanade down to the South Sands, the South Cliff lift opened in 1875 and was the first funicular railway in Great Britain. Originally powered by seawater, it now uses electricity to shuttle visitors up and down.
South Bay, Scarborough Spa, YO11 2HD

Eden Project
The Eden Project boasts the world’s largest greenhouses – home to more than a million different types of plants in a variety of climates – making it the first enterprise of this scale in the world. A fleet of 29 Renault electric vehicles is used throughout the site.
Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG

The Science Museum
A celebration of innovation, the Science Museum is home to many firsts – from the spacesuit of Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, to the BBC’s first transmitter and the first jet engine.
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD

The Falkirk Wheel
As the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, this 35-metre tall contraption is not only an amazing feat of engineering that connects two canals, but a hugely popular tourist attraction. View it on a boat trip, or marvel from afar.
Lime Road, Tamfourhill, Falkirk, FK1 4RS

The Jenner Hut
A small thatched hut in a Gloucestershire garden seems an unlikely birthplace for modern medicine, but it was here that Dr Edward Jenner created the first-ever vaccine for smallpox, thus saving millions of lives.
Church Lane, Berkeley, GL13 9BN

The Electric Vehicle Experience Centre in Milton Keynes is the UK’s first brand-neutral centre dedicated to educating people about electric vehicles. You can test drive a Renault ZOE while you’re there.
26 & 28 Crown Walk, Milton Keynes, MK9 3AH

Unlock the magic of firsts for yourself with the New Renault ZOE – the ideal first electric car. Find out more at

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