English Heritage has started work on its biggest conservation project to date. Scaffolding is going up around the bridge as experts begin the work.
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, iron radials and braces are to be repaired and work will be completed on deck plates and wedges, the main iron arch and the stone abutments on either side of the River Severn. The bridge will also be re-painted.
Historian David de Haan, a former deputy director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, said: “This graceful structure in its beautiful setting has been a source of endless fascination and has given me a lifetime of study end enjoyment. For the first time cast iron was used structurally and gave such confidence in this previously untried material that many other iron bridges followed.”
Morgan Cowles, head of conservation maintenance for English Heritage, said: “After it was built cast iron came to be widely used in bridges, aqueducts and buildings.
“For me it represents a pivotal moment in development of metallurgic design and engineering.”
Ironbridge Gorge councillor Nicola Lowery, said: “I am delighted that English Heritage’s conservation project is beginning this week, as the Iron Bridge is not simply a remarkable monument, but an iconic symbol, representing the achievements of Shropshire’s ironmasters.
"The Gorge’s rich history never fails to enchant visitors and I hope many will come to see this fascinating project develop.
"The bridge resides in the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, which is a place that many call home, with many living here for generations keeping the memories and history alive in this unique place."