Scaffolding up as restoration work to start on Iron Bridge

Scaffolding is continuing to spring up at one of Shropshire's most iconic structures as part of a major restoration project.

Workers have been on site at the Iron Bridge, preparing the structure for the restoration work.

The project, the largest of its kind by English Heritage, will stop cracking on the bridge in the centre of Ironbridge.

The world's first iron bridge was 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 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 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 holding the bridge together 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, with the project costing a total of £1.2 million.

Councillor Nicola Lowery, ward member for the Iron Bridge Gorge, said she has been working to ensure that minimal disruption was caused during the work.

"It seems to be going smoothly for the contractors who worked last weekend to make sure they are meeting their deadlines for the scaffolding to go up ahead of the conservation work.

"I have not had any complaints of disruption. A lot of people seem interested in seeing the scaffolding going up," she added.

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