West view of the cast iron bridge built by Rowland Burdon Esq., MP, over the River Wear at Sunderland
Engraver: Raffield, J.
Medium: Aquatint with etching
West view of the newly completed 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. Scaffolding was successfully used to construct the bridge while allowing traffic to proceed along the river, then removed when the centre was complete.