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Historic Iron Bridge to Be Preserved

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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A historic bridge in England is slated to undergo much-needed repairs that will help prolong the life of the span, but some funding for the project is still in question.

Shropshire Iron Bridge
Roantrum, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Shropshire Iron Bridge, built in 1779, is in need of £3.6 million in work.

Constructed in 1779, the 378-ton Shropshire Iron Bridge was designed by Abraham Darby, according to New Civil Engineer, and was the first cast iron single-span arch bridge in the world. Due to the age of the structure and the threat of cracking due to stresses in the ironwork, the bridge requires £3.6 million ($4,7 million) in conservation work.

Iron Bridge Work

English Heritage, a nonprofit, will be spearheading the conservation project, which will include repairs on the bridge’s iron radials and braces, the deck plates and wedges, and the primary iron arch. The bridge will also be repainted.

Head of English Heritage conservation and maintenance Morgan Cowles told the Shropshire Star that the work on the Iron Bridge was the largest conservation project the charity had taken on since it had become an independent entity in 2015.

"Through all of the research we've done we've learned the ironwork of the bridge is cracking in several places,” Cowles said. “That's largely due to some casting imperfections from when it was originally constructed. It is also due to the ground action in the gorge. What we know is the center span is over a foot smaller than when it was constructed."

Conservation Methods

Before the addition of faceplates, cracks will be cleaned and filled with a specialized resin, according to the Star. Masonry work and a resurfacing of the bridge will also help protect the structure for the future, with corrosion protection measures slated to last up to another 25 years.

So far, the project has raised what English Heritage calls "a significant sum," including a donation of 1 million euros ($1,166,500) from the German Hermann Reemtsma Foundation.

The charity is now crowdfunding to raise £25,000 from the public to secure the funds needed.

"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,” said Jochen Muennich, of the Hermann Reemtsma Foundation.

“This is the foundation´s first funding venture in the U.K., a signal of our strong attachment to Great Britain in general, and to the mission of English Heritage in particular.”

According to New Civil Engineer, the bridge was used for automotive traffic up until 1934. At that time, it was dubbed an ancient monument and work commenced to strengthen it, which included the construction of a concrete strut built across the riverbed of the River Severn.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Historic Preservation; Preservation; Renovation

Comment from nick ball, (11/14/2017, 8:21 AM)

we should not underestimate the significance of this heritage project and well done to all those offering funds. When you consider Abraham Darby is credited with starting the industrial revolution and with discovering that coal could be used to smelt iron he was the true founder of the mass production of cast iron. Remarkable!

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