A View of the Cast Iron Bridge over the Severn at Coalbrook Dale in Shropshire
Engraver: West, C.
Medium: Aquatint with etching
View of the iron bridge over the Severn River at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. The bridge was designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard and was built between 1777 and 1780. East Shropshire was an important industrial centre in the 18th century, with many coal mines and the largest iron works in England located here. A ferry crossing carried people and goods over the River Severn but was difficult and dangerous, especially in winter so in 1777 an Act was passed requiring the construction of a bridge. The Act set the rates for the tolls, and these remained the same thereafter. The Act also ruled that no ferries were allowed to operate within 500 yards of the bridge. The bridge was cast locally in open sand and all the principal parts were erected in just three months. The span of the arch of the bridge is just over 100 feet, the height is 40 feet, and it weighs nearly 379 tons.