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East view of the cast iron bridge over the River Wear at Sunderland, previous to the centring being taken down

East view of the cast iron bridge over the River Wear at Sunderland, previous to the centring being taken down

Engraver: Raffield, J.

Medium: Aquatint with etching

Date: 1796

Shelfmark: KTOP XII

Item number: 36b.2

Length: 43

Width: 72

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Print

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East view of the construction of the great iron bridge across the River Wear at Sunderland. This was built between 1793 and 1796. It amazed contemporaries with its size (a single span over 236 foot long) and its bold use of a new material: iron. The use of iron was crucial because an iron arch was estimated to be 15 times lighter than a stone arch of a similar size would be. It meant that for the first time an elegant single arched bridge was possible. It was planned by Rowland Burdon and cast at Walker's of Rotherham under the control of Thomas Wilson. This view shows scaffolding being successfully used to construct the bridge while allowing traffic to proceed along the river.

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