A £3.6M conservation project is underway to save Shropshire’s historic Iron Bridge.
English Heritage will clean, conserve, repair and reinforce the bridge, constructed in 1779 over the River Severn, which is under threat from cracking due to stresses in the ironwork and ground movement over the centuries. It will also be repainted to protect it in the future.
The 378t bridge designed by Abraham Darby was the first cast iron single span arch bridge in the world and “was a turning point in British engineering”.The charity is crowdfunding to raise £25,000 to cover the cost of the conservation, after a €1M donation from the German Hermann Reemtsma Foundation.
English Heritage’s chief executive Kate Mavor said: “The Iron Bridge is one of the most important, if not the most important, bridges ever built. It sits in the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and is open to everyone to visit, for free, every day of the year. But after two centuries, its cast iron is cracking and if it is to survive, the bridge needs our support. Today we are asking the public to help save the Iron Bridge so that it can continue to inspire generations to come.”
The bridge was used by vehicles until 1934 when it was designated an Ancient Monument and other massive works have taken place to strengthen it, such as a reinforced concrete strut built acros the bed of the river to brace the two abutments.
Scaffold in place around the bridge
Source: English Heritage
The Hermann Reemtsma Foundation’s Jochen Muennich said: “We immediately recognised the value of English Heritage´s project to conserve the Iron Bridge, an outstanding example of the late eighteenth century engineering skills pioneered in Great Britain and subsequently adopted and developed throughout Europe.
”Not only do we admire the Iron Bridge as an important technical landmark, but we also see it as a potent reminder of our continent´s common cultural roots and values.
“This is the foundation´s first funding venture in the UK, a signal of our strong attachment to Great Britain in general, and to the mission of English Heritage in particular. In the current climate it seems more important than ever to raise awareness of the links in our industrial heritage and our broader cultural bonds.”
To donate to Project Iron Bridge visit the fundraising page.