RSP Home River Severn Tales Chris Witts


The Ironbridge Gorge of today bears little resemblance to that of the eighteenth century. Then, in this narrow valley, the Industrial Revolution was taking effect, with craftsmen experimenting with the new materials of metal and oil. A hundred years before, Coalport was exporting thousands of barrels of oil to all parts of Europe for medicinal purposes. The oil was exploited during the period of 1788 for industrial use, with the Severn becoming polluted for forty years.

A common commodity for export was coal, the first barge to carry a load was recorded in 1570 and by 1780 as much as 100,000 tons was taken away annually. The Severn was an ideal highway for this trade, with the barges returning to Shropshire loaded with cider, perry and hay from Gloucester.

Although Thomas Telford was not involved in the building or design of Iron Bridge, he was still highly respected for his work on many other bridges on the Severn. So much so that the new town of Telford was named after him, what greater tribute can a man have?

The second bridge that crosses the Severn. It was opened in May 1992 by Lady Hooson, wife of the chairman of the Second Severn Crossing.

The last bridge to cross the Severn. Opened on the 5th June 1996 by HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. At a cost of £3330,000,000, it is Britain’s longest river crossing. Yet it only took 4 years to build!


Severn Bridges

Photomarine . Sharpness Shipping . Links . Gloucester Shipyard