The Iron Bridge

Many tourists travel to this site even on the cold day we were there. With plenty of Cafe’s to warm you up and great walks to keep you warm you can understand why! There are more gift shops that in most English Heritage sites and public toilets too, always welcome in the cold.

The Iron Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England. Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, and was greatly celebrated after construction owing to its use of the new material.

In 1934 it was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and closed to vehicular traffic. Tolls for pedestrians were collected until 1950, when ownership of the bridge was transferred to Shropshire County Council, the bridge now belongs to Telford and Wrekin Borough Council. The bridge is a Grade I listed building, and a waypoint on the South Telford Heritage Trail.

Abraham Darby I first smelted local iron ore with coke made from Coalbrookdale coal in 1709, and in the coming decades Shropshire became a centre for industry due to the low price of fuel from local mines.The River Severn was used as a key trading route, but it was also a barrier to travel around the deep Severn Gorge, especially between the then important industrial parishes of Broseley and Madeley, the nearest bridge being at Buildwas two miles away.

The use of the river by boat traffic and the steep sides of the gorge meant that any bridge should ideally be of a single span, and sufficiently high to allow tall ships to pass underneath. The steepness and instability of the banks was problematic for building a bridge, and there was no point where roads on opposite sides of the river converged.

The Iron Bridge was the first of its kind to be constructed, although not the first to be considered or the first iron bridge of any kind.

Read more: Wikipedia

English Heritage webpage