Patrick Arends

The beauty of engineering - December 2012

As I've been living in the centre of the UK for about five years, it was about time to go and visit this specific UNESCO World Heritage site. Especially as it's close to Telford, which is only a 40 minute train ride from Birmingham. I've been basically living around the corner for a long time! (more)

The Iron Bridge was the first bridge in the world to be made of cast iron and is the symbol of the Industrial Revolution. Architect Thomas Pritchard suggested in 1773 to the ironmaster John Wilkinson to build this bridge, crossing the river Severn in Shropshire, England.

As this area had rich coal deposits near the surface, this part of Shropshire became an industrial powerhouse. A local furnace lowered the costs of iron production and made this bridge possible. In total, an amount of 378 tons of iron was used and construction was completed in 1779. The bridge, the gorge and the adjacent settlement of Ironbridge form the UNESCO Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

The iron technology wasn't well developed yet, so most of the truss connections, are traditional fixings used for timber structures. These fixings can easily be recognised by the clamps around the main iron members and dowels to keep them in place. To me it's a perfect symbol of the beauty of engineering!

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