The first iron bridge

It’s a bad idea to make a bridge out of cast iron – it’s brittle and doesn’t handle tension well – but the very first major bridge of this type opened to traffic in 1781 and still stands today.

Iron Bridge
Tk420 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Iron Bridge (creative name, by the way) spans the River Severn in Shropshire, England. It’s actually quite beautiful, stretching over the river in a half-circle arch. The Iron Bridge survived a 1795 flood that destroyed all the other bridges over this part of the Severn, bits falling off in 1902-3, and a proposal to demolish it in 1956.

The bridge was only closed to traffic in the 1930s; today you can walk across it and admire this early artefact of the Industrial Revolution.

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