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Iron Bridge appeal smashes its target in just 48 hours

By Sophie Madden | Entertainment | Published:

Fundraising to help save the iconic Iron Bridge smashed its £25,000 target in just 48 hours.

The Iron Bridge is clad in scaffolding as work begins

On Monday, English Heritage launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money as part of its work to restore and repair the bridge.

And by this morning, workers were celebrating after smashing the total - with over £27,000 already raised.

Members of the public were asked to donate cash to help meet the £3.6m cost of the project.

The charity has already been helped by a €1m donation from the German Hermann Reemtsma Foundation.

English Heritage’s Tom Jones said: “We’ve been really overwhelmed with the support so far.

"This is English Heritage's largest conservation project since becoming a charity, and it is great that people around the world want to help our vital works to save the Iron Bridge, one of Shropshire’s most important landmarks and a wonder of the modern world”.

Damage to the top of the bridge with English Heritage's Head of conservation, Morgan Cowles

Erected in 1779 over the River Severn in Shropshire, 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 British engineering.

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Worked on by team of pioneering industrialists, the Iron Bridge was made possible through advances in iron smelting that took place in the decades before.

Casting such large parts was complicated and required skills developed over generations.

However English Heritage’s extensive surveys and investigations have shown that the Iron Bridge, and the incredible feat of ingenuity it represents, is now under threat from cracking.

Project Iron Bridge: Help Save an Industrial Icon

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It is down to stresses in the ironwork dating from the original construction, ground movement over the centuries and an earthquake in the 19th century which pushed the sides of the gorge closer together.

With an enormous scaffold in place around the bridge, English Heritage will now start to clean and conserve, repair and – where necessary – reinforce the different elements of the bridge.

Work has begun on iron radials and braces holding Shropshire’s Iron Bridge together, as well as its deck plates, wedges and main iron arch itself.

The bridge will also be repainted to protect it for the future.

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Work is expected to run until November next year.

After raising £20,000 in just one day, English Heritage, issued a huge thanks to the hundreds of supporters who helped get within a hair's breadth of the total.

The organisation said: "We're amazed at your support yesterday for Project Iron Bridge.

To raise £20,000 and counting from over 400 of you is an incredible achievement of the crowd.

"We never dreamed that we would get so close to our goal in just 24 hours.

"Thank you so much for your generosity and encouragement.

"Thank you for helping to make Project Iron Bridge Happen."

Stretching across the River Severn, the world’s first iron bridge is seen as one of the greatest symbols of the Industrial Revolution.

The news also comes as it was revealed that the bridge will be taking centre stage in a global celebration of engineering feats.

It will feature in a video together with Shrewsbury's Flaxmill when the Institution of Civil Engineers marks its 200th anniversary in 2018.

The footage will form part of an exhibition at ICE’s Great George Street, London HQ next month.

To donate to Project Iron Bridge, visit crowdfunder.co.uk/project-iron-bridge

Sophie Madden

By Sophie Madden
@SMadden_Star

Senior reporter based out of the head office in Ketley covering the Telford area.

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