Ironbridge  Guide
Ironbridge Tourist Information & Visitor Guide
 

The Iron Bridge
 

The Iron Bridge [17]

The Iron Bridge

As you approach the Square, you get your first full view of the great Iron Bridge spanning the River Severn.

The bridge opened on New Year's Day 1781 and was the result of work by the architect Thomas Pritchard and Abraham Darby III.

Unfortunately Thomas Pritchard did not live to see it in completion. Abraham Darby received a gold medal from the Royal Society of Arts for his endeavours.

View from The Iron Bridge

The bridge has long since ceased to be able to support vehicle traffic but you can walk across and view the river and the town.

At the far end of the bridge is the old Toll House - you can see the list of Victorian tolls on the outside.

The Toll House

Beyind the bridge you will see another car park which was once the grounds for the station house for the Severn Valley Branch Line from Bridgnorth to Buildwas.

You can still walk along the old rail line on the right across a viaduct directly up to the Buildwas Power Station cooling towers

There is also a path that will lead one up the hillside to Benthall Edge, which is very steep and slippery in wet weather, but does give good views of the area and you will eventually end up at the Benthall Hall and Church.

Walk back to the toll house and across the bridge, if you look to your right you will see a water level marker so you can see at what stage the river is during your visit, it is quite prone to severe flooding in the winter months.

Severn Coracles

On the right you will see a small shed on the river’s edge, that used to be the workshop of the famous Roger’s coracle makers. Sadly Eustace Rogers died in 2003 (born 1914), the last in the family line of local coracle makers.

Eustace Rogers - photo courtesy of the Rogers FamilyEustace Rogers - photo courtesy of the Rogers FamilyEustace Rogers - photo courtesy of the Rogers Family

Coracles were used extensively on the river by the local residents as a means of sustaining the family larder either by poaching or fishing. They are small, round-shaped boats made from wicker-framed cowhide with a single seat in the middle. They are manoeuvred by the means of a single paddle - it is a great skill to keep one upright and even more so once one is full of a bounty!

Eustace used to be quite happy to share his stories and knowledge in making and using these crafts when he was alive and fortunately for us even though he is now gone, The Greenwood Trust is keeping up the tradition by running classes on their construction and use.

Eustace used to cure cowhides for the outside shell of the craft and be very particular about the woods he used for the supporting pieces, willow and hazel being preferred, then it was tied with horsehair twine and as everything dried out it shrunk tightly round the frame to make it good and sturdy.

In addition to the family’s larder the coracle was used many times to rescue animals and people in times of floods, collect firewood for the stoves and fireplaces or find even dead bodies after an accident or suicide.

If you look in some of the shops in town, especially the museum shops you will be able to find not only a postcard of a coracle, but of Eustace with it which is well worth taking home.

Eustace Rogers photos courtesy of the Rogers Family

CLICK HERE FOR NEXT PAGE

Ironbridge Tour

1. Buildwas
2. Buildwas - The Bridge
3. The Power Station
4. The Valley Hotel
5. The Greenwood Trust
6. Coalbrookdale
7. Aga-Rayburn
8. Coalbrookdale - Paradise
9. Coalbrookdale - Museums
10. Holy Trinity Church
11. Ironbridge - West
12. Ironbridge - The Wharfage
13. The Iron Bridge
14. Town Centre and East
15. Jackfield - West
16. Jackfield - East
17. Coalport & Blists Hill
18. Broseley
19. Benthall
 
Useful links


For escorted tours of the Ironbridge Gorge please visit:
Shropshire Tour Guides
Copyright © Paul & Sabine Hutchinson