33. Ironbridge, plus a flying visit to Wroxeter.
2nd November 2010. A visit
It is now closed to all but pedestrians, however. Here you see over the bridge, into the town, which lies mainly on the north side of the river. The Toll House is on the left. More on that later.
Here is the bridge, in all its simple grandeur. It is the first iron bridge in the world, having been erected from pre-cast components in 1779-1781.
Here it is from upstream.
The River Severn in Ironbridge, a little further upstream.
These are some old lime-kilns.
Looking back over the bridge, to the Toll House.
Here are the charges you had to pay to cross the bridge. They were enshrined in the 1776 Act of Parliament which was necessary to allow the construction of the bridge, and apparently remained fixed indefinitely. At least the notice itself must be later, because the ‘long s’ is nowhere used, as it surely would have been in 1781 when the bridge finally opened for traffic. Still, two shillings (10p) would have been quite a large amount to pay to get your carriage over; but then, if you could afford to have it drawn by as many as six Horses (or mares &c.,) then you must have been well off, so two shillings was probably neither here nor there. The last paragraph reads: “N.B. This Bridge being private property, every Officer or Soldier, whether on duty or not, is liable to pay toll for passing over, as well as any baggage wagon, Mail coaches(,) the Royal Family.” H’mm; those were evidently egalitarian times, when the rich in their six-horse carriage had to pay 24 times as much as a pedestrian, and even the Royal Family were not immune from the Toll! Parliament had spoken, and knew what it was talking about!
Though the day was drawing on, we hastened a few miles up the
Alas, the Autumn season had just
started, and the Wroxeter site was closed. But here
is (as far as I know) the tallest bit of Roman wall standing in the Midlands of
England – we just couldn’t get any closer to it than this. The hill known as
the Wellington Wrekin broods a few miles away on the
right of the shot. Wroxeter, or Viroconium
Cornoviorum, to give it its original name, had the
14th Roman Legion based there from about 58 AD – which is very early in the
Roman conquest of Britain; that had only ‘officially’ begun in 43 AD. A Roman Legion
was supposed to consist of about 5,000 men. Later the 20th Legion was there,
but according to Wikipedia, they withdrew around 88
AD. But a significant town had grown up around the military fort, as usually happened,
and the settlement remained, and grew, for a long period. It may have grown to
have as many as 15,000 inhabitants; if so, it might then have been the fourth
largest city in
Here you see a replica Roman building that has been constructed at Wroxeter. It will be good to go back in 2011 and see how it’s getting on, and what it represents, &c.
Page written 2nd January 2011.