The beautiful town of Iron Bridge in Telford flourished as an important center of Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. The availability of minerals along the gorge of the River Severn helped the development of various kinds of industries.But there was one problem. The minerals were mined on the opposite bank of the river from where the people lived. This made it difficult to transport both goods and people during the Industrial Revolution. As the mines of clay, limestone, coal and iron ore lay on the other side of the river, laborers had to cross the river on boats for work and to bring back the minerals to the various industries. A bridge was essential in connecting the two banks of the River Severn which could facilitate the increasing volume of people and goods during those times.
Mines, foundries, factories and workshops flourished here. Coke was discovered and cast iron was used to produce various household and industrial items. Traffic increased and by the late 1700s it became necessary to connect the two banks of the River Severn with a bridge. The Iron Bridge is in the town by the same name in Shropshire, UK. The bridge which opened to traffic in 1781 is a World Heritage Site today as it is a symbol of Industrial Revolution because it not only influenced the development of the industries around it but had influenced a way of modern industrial life all over UK, Europe and the World.
It was the world’s first cast iron arch bridge which was the first leap in bridge building technology. Abraham Darby3 who belonged to a family of iron smiths was given the job to make the cast-iron parts of the bridge. Cast iron was expensive in those days but the production of coke for the furnaces and the proximity of the cast-iron workshop itself made it possible to build the bridge. Abraham Darby3 himself bore most of the costs in the construction and he lived and died in debt. The engineering of this bridge was the first of its kind. The frame was cast separately part by part and put together by bolts. Work on the bridge started in 1779 and it was opened to traffic in 1781.
It was here that coke was discovered and cast iron was used to not only make smaller articles but even in building of this bridge. The engineers needed a lighter and stronger material than stone to build the bridge. Stone was too heavy to make the curve along the width of this river and cast iron was strong and light enough to meet the requirements. Some of the foundries and small industries here manufactured smaller household articles like letter box cover, door knob and it was used all over Europe and was in great demand.