Iron Bridge work ‘can’t start soon enough’
Restoration work on Shropshire's iconic bridge cannot come soon enough, according to residents.
People living in the Ironbridge World Heritage Site say the bridge is badly in need of weeding, and say they are "fed up" of apologising to residents about its state.
It comes after it was revealed that a £1.2m renovation project on the bridge will begin in September.
The world's first Iron Bridge,completed in 1779 and opened to traffic in 1801 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and remains an iconic feature of Britain’s industrial past.
But after standing for centuries, the bridge is in need to repairs to cracking, caused by ground movements.
The Iron Bridge was the first single span arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron and was a turning point in engineering.
However Britain’s it is suffering due to stresses in the ironwork dating from the original construction, ground movement over the centuries, and an earthquake at the end of the 19th century.
The Iron Bridge has been in the care of English Heritage since 1975 and the charity has undertaken regular conservation and monitoring during that time.
Now, a major conservation project will see the different elements of the bridge – the iron radials and braces holding the bridge together, the deck plates and wedges, the main iron arch, and the stone abutments on either side of the River Severn – undergo thorough examination and conservation.
The cast iron pieces will be carefully cleaned and conserved, and the bridge will also be re-painted.
Works are due to commence on site in September, and the first stage will involve scaffolding being erected around the bridge.
But resident Graham Hickman, who has lived on High Street for more than 60 years says it is even in desperate need of more minor works like weeding.
Graham Hickman, said: "It is rapidly being enveloped in weeds and the surface deck is in a terrible state.
"Visitors and residents call it a disgrace, We are fed up of apologising to visitors about the state it is in."
Morgan Cowles, head of conservation maintenance at English Heritage, said: "We are delighted that we will shortly be commencing work on English Heritage’s major conservation project on the Iron Bridge, which will secure the bridge for future generations.
"The works will include repairs to the ironwork and masonry repairs to the abutments, piers and parapets of the bridge.
"Over the years, some vegetation has embedded itself in the joints of the masonry particularly in hard to reach places and this will all be carefully cleared away using expert conservation techniques once the scaffolding is in place.”