The Iron Bridge ~ Our World Famous Local Landmark

Iron Bridge 3

Well some of us might be excited by the sight of the world’s first cast iron bridge (a single span built in 1779 to replace a treacherous ferry crossing, while being tall enough to let the Severn sailing barges pass through without de-masting; cutting edge technology of its time). But then none of this appears to cut much ice with the lass on the fence. I love her look of wistful nonchalance. Bridge? What bridge?

Iron Bridge 2

Upstream of the bridge we find a band of happy industrial architecture enthusiasts. They have just enjoyed a spirited ‘Iron Bridge’ talk from the late John Powell, for many years librarian at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust,  and seen here leading the group onwards to other exciting Severn Gorge sights.

Which could well be this, the Coalbrookdale ironmasters’ riverside warehouse (built in Gothic style), the point from which their cast iron goods (especially cauldrons) were exported downriver to the wide world:


And at the time when these photos were taken, visitors to the Severn Warehouse would also have seen these:

Ironbridge cooling towers2

The cooling towers of the now demolished Ironbridge Power Station.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: on or by the water

29 thoughts on “The Iron Bridge ~ Our World Famous Local Landmark

  1. Love the sepia / B&W effects on these photos. The cooling towers look good. And I am sure I have not noticed that warehouse in its unusual Gothic style from that particular angle. Seems elaborate for a warehouse!

  2. These photos are marvellous, Tish. Your informed text accompanying many of your posts I appreciate also.
    I reblogged it with a poem I read a few minutes earlier which reminds us to remember what has been bequeathed to us in its entirety. Hope you don’t mind the addition of the poem. Thanks! Sarah

    1. Quite agree, James. Way back when I was showing historian David Starkey around the Severn Warehouse (he was doing some consultancy work for my Ironbridge Museum project) he waxed lyrical about the cooling towers, and especially when I said they’d been illuminated back in 1979 for the Iron Bridge bicentenary. He thought they were a brilliant way to create a visual sense of the change/continuity notions when it comes to thinking about technological development and innovation. There may of course come a time when we regret junking one form of energy technology before we’ve properly formulated and implemented effective, safe and affordable alternatives.

      1. We once had two stout cooling towers right next to the motorway by the Tinsley Viaduct. Perhaps you remember them? They used to welcome us home to Sheffield a little like the Wrekin has always been the homecoming beacon for Salopians. I’d hoped they might just have converted them into some kind of artwork but instead one day they just blew them up. If it had been left up to the locals they would definitely have been preserved.

  3. These shots work so well in monochrome. I haven’t seen Ironbridge since I was a child, when (if I remember correctly) it was just a simple bridge rather than a major tourist site. We planned to when in Shropshire last year but ran out of time. We’ll have to come back!

    1. I remember it too as a child. It was a gloomy old thing painted black. Then the Ironbridge Gorge Museum was started up in the early 70s, and it was given a face lift in grey. More recently English Heritage did some serious conservation work on the structure and discovered its original colour was rust red, so that’s now its spanking new colour. These sepia versions belong to the grey era though. Ironbridge is worth a visit.

  4. I love the antique look these photos have. Makes them more historical too. It is an amazing bridge and a fascinating place to visit. I went years ago with plans to go back. So I must!

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