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Congratulations to English Heritage, winner of the Conservation category of the European Heritage Awards which promote “best practices related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication.” The Iron Bridge is the first in the world to be constructed of iron and is a symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It is a Scheduled Monument and part of the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stresses in the ironwork compounded by ground movement in the Ironbridge Gorge and a 19th-century earthquake led English Heritage to undertake necessary interventions to preserve its original fabric to the greatest extent possible.  All elements were addressed: the iron radials and braces holding the bridge together, the deck plates and wedges, the main iron arch, and the stone abutments on either side of the Severn.  The cast iron elements were repaired, the masonry conserved, the deck resurfaced, and the entire structure cleaned and repainted in its original red-brown colour.

The Jury remarked that “this iconic heritage, cared for throughout its lifetime, is a part of a larger whole, relating to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the surrounding industrial landscape. Its conservation approach is based on full respect of the original technology and was made possible through international collaboration and funding. It is a very good example of conservation in action, providing access to visitors and locals during the work”.

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The Iron Bridge, Shropshire, UNITED KINGDOM

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