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Ironbridge (Shropshire). The valley of the Severn below the Cistercian abbey of Buildwas developed in the early 18th cent. as a great iron manufacturing area under the Coalbrookdale Company, run by the Darby family. The bridge itself was designed and built by Abraham Darby the third and opened in 1779. Much of the ironwork was made by John Wilkinson, who followed up the success with an iron barge, launched in 1787. The intricate iron tracery gives the bridge a delicate, almost fragile appearance. It was one of the wonders of its age and is now the focal point of a superb museum complex.

J. A. Cannon

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