I for Iron Bridge

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I - ironbridge tolls

Following on from my bridge last week is another iron bridge, this time from Shropshire and much closer to home. This Iron Bridge is in the Severn Gorge and has a town named after it. It was the first arch bridge in the world to be built from cast-iron and it opened on New Year’s Day 1781, the result of work by the architect Thomas Pritchard (whose work can be seen in many Shropshire towns including Ludlow) and Abraham Darby III.

I - ironbridge

It is one of the great symbols of the Industrial Revolution and visited by many.  Directly across from the bridge is the Tontine Hotel.

I - ironbridge from the ironbridge

The word Tontine is a noun “an annuity scheme by which several subscribers invest in a common fund out of which they receive an annuity that increases as subscribers die until the last survivor takes all!”.

The idea of building a hotel here started as soon as people realised the attraction of the Iron Bridge. Those involved in the venture included Abraham Darby III, Samuel Darby, William & Richard Reynolds, John Wilkinson, Joseph Rathbone and others who were involved in the construction of the bridge.

The hotel opened in 1784. Inside are Victorian fireplaces with the traditional tiles of the area, photographs showing the area in different stages, with coracle men and their coracles, people standing on the river under the bridge when it froze on the 5th February 1917, collections of old local bottles etc.

source: Ironbridge Tourist Information and Visitor Centre.

view from bridge
View from bridge

If you ever find yourself in Shropshire, then try to make some time to visit this once heavily industrialised, now pleasantly picturesque, town, not just for the Iron Bridge, but also its many other attractions.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

27 thoughts on “I for Iron Bridge”

  1. A great place to visit Jude, and nice photos to show it off too. Those tolls must have seemed excessive then, at a shilling for a coach and four and one penny per head of cattle! Interesting history, of an unusual place.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. Thanks Pete. It’s a lovely town, almost bought a house there once, well we viewed one, but it was rather close to the river!

  2. Firstly, I’ve never heard of the word ‘Tontine’ so thank you for explaining that Jude!! I’m guessing in this instance, the survivor got enough money to build the hotel 😉 Secondly, my mum visited the Iron Bridge a couple of years ago and loved it and the area, telling me I should go. In getting to know Shropshire through you now I really would love to, these photos show it as a really beautiful area and the bridge itself looks fascinating 🙂 xx

    1. I’m not sure where the tontine comes into the hotel – I thought that maybe they all invested in the building of hotel and then shared the profits, which increased as each one died. Last man left inherited the whole hotel.

      It does get busy in Ironbridge with coaches – best time is early or late in the day. We stayed in the Library House B&B right on the wharfside so we could wander around when the tourists had left. A lovely B&B if you fancy a stay there.

      1. Ahh, that makes sense about the hotel…

        A B&B on the wharfside sounds ideal. It’s great to get away from all the tourists isn’t it? Thanks for the heads-up 🙂

  3. Somewhere in an old, old album, I have some shots of this bridge. I remember it as being a nice little place, but must have missed the tontine facts, which came as a surprise. 🙂
    We have a rather grand pub/restaurant of this name not too far away. Another good Guinness place, as I remember.

    1. I never took you to be a Guinness girl Jo – more a glass of sav blanc delicately sipped on the terrace 🙂

        1. Oh, I wish I’d known you when we were young, I think we’d have been great friends backpacking around the world together!

      1. Yes! 😀 I’ve been looking forward to my last visit in 2011. I have fallen heads over heels in love with the south of England. This summer we’ll be making a three week trip, starting in Scotland and then driving south again along the west coast.

      2. * I’ve been looking forward to this vacation since my last visit in 2011. * (something happened to that sentence hehehe)

        No, we did that in 2011, all the way to Land’s End. This time we won’t come that far south. My V-man is still working on the exact route, so there will be more details in the months to come.

        1. I look forward to seeing your plans. North Devon is interesting if you haven’t been there, very quiet. I have a post on my site about it if you do a search. If you have any questions then get in touch, I’d be happy to help 🙂

  4. Lovely pics – I’ve always meant to go to Iron Bridge, and as it’s only about an hour’s drive for me I really should get there sooner rather than later…

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