First Ever Cast-iron Bridge in Shropshire England

Historical Article About the History of the First Ever Cast-iron Bridge in Shropshire England

The Ironbridge gorge in Shropshire England is famous for housing the location of the first iron bridge ever built. According to many experts the iron bridge in Shropshire is where the industrial revolution has its roots. This first iron bridge took four years to build construction lasted from 1777 to 1781 the bridge crosses the famous Severn River. The area of the Ironbridge gorge gained much notability early on for the variety of the wealthy materials near the Severn River. Before the construction of the bridge had been completed if someone who wanted to cross the Severn River they could do so only by taking a ferry. An important aspect that gave rise to great incentive to build the bridge was the developing industries that were beginning to emerge. Many of the new industries were going to soon need a better form of transportation.


According to the Ironbridge Gorge museum website, Thomas Farnolls Pritchard was the architect who was influential in the designs, and earliest plans of the bridge. Also according to the Ironbridge website Pritchard first approached John Wilkinson about his designs for the development of the bridge. Wilkinson was then quick to seek out Abraham Darby III who added the most financial support to the project. Darby also saw the bridge’s construction after the untimely death of Thomas Pritchard through to the end. In 1977 the first construction work began on the new bridge, the iron work began two years later in 1979 it holds great significance for being the first arch bridge to contain cast-iron. The bridge finished its construction in the summer of 1979, and enjoyed its opening a couple of years later in 1981.

The immediate effects of the newly constructed cast-iron bridge were plentiful. The construction allowed for a more efficient means of transportation than the old ferry system that had previously existed. This new means of transportation allowed more access to the precious material that provides the majority of incentive for the design in the beginning. The building of the bridge also had a great deal to do with growing the town of Ironbridge, also helping it to become a great 18th century tourist attraction. The result of using cast-iron made the use of cheaper iron for future architectural designs more main stream. Iron Bridge leaves behind an incredible legacy of historical importance, the most significant of which was spurring on the Industrial Revolution. The iron bridge’s legacy is everlasting although the actual bridge itself has not shown the same resolve. Shortly after its construction the bridge was already showing signs of wear and tear in the form of cracks. Traffic over the bridge is no longer allowed by cars, but tolls for pedestrian traffic are still open to the public. Even though the iron bridge does not have the same practical purposes that it used to, it still remains a staple in English history, and a major tourist attraction. The iron bridge located at Ironbridge Shropshire England is ranked as one of England’s great 21 icons.