Mahogany model of the cast-iron bridge over the River Severn at Coalbrookdale, with engraved brass place. Made by Thomas Gregory for Abraham Darby III, Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, 1784.
Coalbrookdale on the River Severn was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. By the 1750s local industrialists, perfectly placed to combine the natural resources necessary to smelt iron, called for a bridge to support their rapidly developing businesses. The resulting iron bridge built by Abraham Darby III became a tourist spectacle of technological and architectural wonder. The single arch span of 100 feet (30.5 metres) weighed 384 tonnes. Darby commissioned this model from the foreman pattern-maker Thomas Gregory, who also developed the bridge’s design. Darby exhibited the model in London in 1786, and presented it to the Royal Society of Arts in 1787.