The Iron Bridge , world’s first iron bridge , crosses the River Severn in Ironbridge Gorge, near the village of Ironbridge, England. It was the first arch bridge in the world to be made out of cast iron, a material which was previously far too expensive to use for large structures. Ironbridge Gorge is known throughout the world as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
In the early eighteenth century the only way to cross the Severn Gorge was by ferry. However, the industries that were growing in the area of Coalbrookdale and Broseley needed a more reliable crossing . In 1775, Pritchard had finalised the plans for building an iron bridge , and Abraham Darby III, an ironmaster working at Coalbrookdale in the gorge, was commissioned to cast and build the bridge.
379 tons of iron was used, costing Darby nearly £3,000. Being the first iron bridge , each part of the frame was cast separately. The bridge comprises more than 800 castings of 12 basic types.
The bridge was raised in the summer of 1779 with a total cost of over £6,000, The Iron Bridge was formally opened on New Year’s Day 1781. It continued in full use by ever-increasing traffic until closed and designated an Ancient Monument in 1934. Massive strengthening works were later undertaken, and in 1999-2000 English Heritage assisted with a full survey of this revolutionary and iconic structure.
Besides of the Iron Bridge many tourists are attracted by the superb Victorian themed museums operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The Gorge is a splendid attraction in its own right because nature has reclaimed most of the former industrial sites and now visitors can see the wonderful natural scenery . Although the revolution started here, most of the factories are long gone and the natural beauty of the Gorge has been restored. The Gorge is a now a maze of footpaths, bridleways and country lanes.
The Iron Bridge , world’s first iron bridge , is the perfect place to begin a tour of the Gorge’s many museums, and the many other English Heritage sites nearby, including Buildwas Abbey, Wenlock Priory and Wroxeter Roman City.
Iron Bridge Facts
- Carries – pedestrians
- Crosses – River Severn
- Location – Ironbridge Gorge near Coalbrookdale
- Design – iron arch bridge
- Total length – 60 metres (200 ft)
- Longest span – 30.5 metres (100 ft)
- Clearance below – 18 metres (59 ft)
- Construction – 1775 , 1779