Coalbrookdale. Celebrated for its iron bridge over the Severn, is a winding glen between two vast hills, about a mile from Madeley Market. Here are the most considerable iron works in England; the forges, mills, and steam engines, with all their vast machinery, - the flaming furnaces, and smoking lime kilns, present a horribly sublime spectacle. The bridge of Coalbrookdale was laid in 1779. All the parts having been cast in open sand, and a scaffold previously erected, each part of the rib was elevated to a proper height by strong ropes and chains, and then lowered, till the ends met in the centre. All the principal parts were erected in three months, without any accident to the work or workmen, or the least obstruction to the navigation of the river. On the abutments of the stone work are placed iron plates, with mortices, in which stand two upright pillars of the same. Against the foot of the inner pillar, the bottom of the main rib bears on the base plate. This rib consists of two pieces, connected by a dove-tail joint, in an iron key, and fastened by screws. Each piece is seventy feet long. The shorter ribs pass through the pillar, the back rib in like manner, without coming down to the plate. The cross stays, braces, circle in the spandrils, and the brackets, connect the larger pieces, so as to keep the bridge perfectly steady; while a diagonal, and cross stays, and top plates, connect the pillars and ribs together in the opposite directions. The whole bridge is covered with iron top-plates, projecting over the ribs on each side, and on this projection, stands the balustrade of cast iron. The road over the bridge, made of clay and iron-slag, is twenty-four feet wide, and one foot deep; the toll for carriages, is one shilling. The span of the arch is one hundred feet, six inches, and the height, from the base line, to the centre, is forty feet. The weight of iron in the whole, is three hundred and seventy eight tons, ten hundredweight; each piece of the long ribs, weighs five tons, fifteen hundred weight. On the largest, or exterior rib, is inscribed in capitals, - This bridge was cast at Coalbrook, and erected in the year 1779. Coalbrookdale is 13 miles south of Shrewsbury.
In the neighbourhood of Coalbrookdale, are the seats of Francis Darby, and Richard Darby, Esqs., W. Tothill, Esq., B. Dickinson, Esq., and J. Reynolds Esq.
Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824