A view of the iron bridge at dusk

Project iron bridge: saving an industrial icon

Stretching across the River Severn, the world's first iron bridge is one of the greatest symbols of the Industrial Revolution. But the Iron Bridge is now suffering from cracking and in need of repair.

To save the bridge for generations to come, English Heritage is embarking on its largest conservation project to date. Find out what we are doing to protect Britain’s best-known industrial monument.

#ProjectIronBridge

Get involved

Engineer surverying the Iron Bridge

Our plans for the bridge

In 2017-18, we are undertaking a major conservation project on the Iron Bridge. The bridge is suffering due to stresses in its ironwork, and the project is vital to ensure that this important monument is preserved for the future.

Thanks to the support of our members and visitors, work is now underway to repair the bridge. Scaffolding is being erected around the bridge so our team can start works. They will conserve many of the original cast iron elements, resurface the deck, repair the stonework, clean and repaint the entire structure. The work is the culmination of years of research, giving us a better understanding of the Iron Bridge than ever before.

Make a donation

The Iron Bridge from above

The Iron Bridge sits at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, a leafy valley holding Britain's longest river. Looking at the peaceful landscape today, it's hard to imagine the industrial powerhouse that once thrived here.

Watch our video for a unique view of the Iron Bridge, or discover more about this iconic structure.

Find out more
A volunteer talking with visitors

Get Involved

We're working to safeguard the future of the Iron Bridge. Be a part of our biggest conservation project to date.

  • Make a donation towards the Iron Bridge using our simple and secure form below. As a charity, we rely on your generous support to look after the historic sites in our care.  
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out more about the work we are doing. #ProjectIronBridge
  • Join the team! From January 2018 you can sign up as an Iron Bridge volunteer, supporting visitors to understand the vital conservation work.

 Iron Bridge Timeline

1709Coal Territory

Abraham Darby, a former brass founder, discovered that coal from Coalbrookdale could be used to smelt iron. This enabled the economically viable mass production of cast iron. Kickstarting the Industrial Revolution, the foundry was producing large quantities of cast iron goods within a couple of years.

Coal smelting at Iron Bridge

1773Pritchard’s Wild Idea

Shrewsbury architect Thomas Pritchard had a bold idea. Capitalising on engineering expertise and new iron-casting techniques, he proposed the world's first iron bridge, to be cast and built by Abraham Darby's grandson, Abraham Darby III.  A strong and durable bridge, it would support the transportation of goods across the River Severn and cut down barge traffic.

Designs for an iron bridge at Coalbrookdale
Conservation at English Heritage

Supporting Conservation

Caring for over 400 historic places means everything from restoring Old Master paintings, to carrying out essential repair works on buildings, to planting historic gardens and keeping them blooming throughout the year.

FIND OUT MORE

'step into englands story