The Iron Bridge was erected across the Severn in Shropshire by Abraham Darby III, grandson of the Abraham Darby who first perfected the method of making cast iron with coke in 1709.
Raised in 1779, the bridge was the first arch span bridge made of cast iron. Its construction presented the iron makers and foundry workers at Coalbrookdale, who cast the components, with a number of engineering challenges. Since nothing of its type had ever been built before in iron, the arches and other components had to be modelled in wood before casting. Carpentry and joinery methods, including mortise and tenon and dovetail joints were used to put the bridge together. Hundreds of individual parts were cast for the bridge, the largest being the half ribs of the arch. Each one is 70ft long and weighs more than five tons. The total arch span is 100 feet and the bridge is about 60 feet above the river.
From its earliest days, the Iron Bridge was considered a wonder of the world and visitors came from all over to see it. The village of Ironbridge, on the north side the bridge, grew up to serve the tourist trade and is still the best place in Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site area for tourist information, shopping and food. Today, the Iron Bridge is only open to pedestrian traffic. A small tollhouse museum near the south side of the bridge tells the story of its construction.
For the best views of the Iron Bridge approach from the west and turn off Tontine Hill onto the path that goes down toward the river. You'll go under the Iron Bridge for a fascinating, close up look at its arches. Then continue on this path, going east and climbing the hill. There are wonderful photo ops from this position.