Building of the Iron Bridge and Its Impact on the Surrounding Area

Building of the Iron Bridge and Its Impact on the Surrounding Area

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Building of the Iron Bridge and Its Impact on the Surrounding Area


The Iron Bridge first constructed in 1779 and completed in 1781 was built for many reasons.

The most important reasons being the terrible weather conditions and the frequent flooding of the river Severn, sometime the water levels reaching extreme heights, also an increase in industry in that area.

Before the bridge was built ferries were used to ship goods across the river but during winter months and spring the river was inaccessible. The nearest bridge was over a mile away in the adjacent town.

People were not happy with the ferries as Shadrax Fox experienced



"The journey normally was no more than a ten minute episode but we were pushed hither and thither by the wind tossed waves. I clung to the sides as the little vessel was swept downstream… after a full three quarters of an hour we reached the shore" - Shadrax Fox, 1704



Some people were not so lucky as Shadrax Fox and on the night of 22nd

October 1799, 27 people drowned when the ferry overturned.



The decision to build a bridge came in 1775 when a group of people

interested in building a bridge decided to buy shares in the bridge.

Since Abraham Darby III had bought the most shares it seems appropriate for him to build it with the help of designer Thomas Farnolls Pritchard.

Since Abraham Darby was already involved in the Iron Industry it was an obvious thing for him to build the bridge out of metal, saving time and money.

The bridge was built at the narrowest point of the river also saving time and money and as there was no technology for a suspension bridge it was an arch bridge.

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Iron was a lot harder wearing than timber would be and this proved a strong quality when withstanding the terrific currents.


Once the Iron Bridge had been completed in 1781 many tourists flocked to see this magnificent sight. The impact on Industry seemed to boom as did tourism and traffic.

Pretty soon a hotel had to be built. The Tontine Hotel was built for

tourists wanting to visit the Iron Bridge and stay in the Ironbridge area.

The hotel later had to be expanded as the numbers of tourists rose.



Goods could now be transported safely all year round making profits and industry increase. The bad conditions crossing the river had made many workers reluctant to cross as it was a risk to them and the goods they were crossing with.

There was an increase in traffic on the roads as more tourists were coming.

Now with the bridge in place goods could be shipped all the time.

There were far more job opportunities as industries such as China , brickworks, lead smeltering and became greater. The Coalport china factory was at one point the largest in the world.



Darby also built a church which he funded and religious people liked this.

Tourism was helped by it greatly and a market was set up as well.

It wasn't just the town of Ironbridge which was affected; it affected many worldwide industries.
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