Artists Impressions

Coalbrookdale had attracted artists throughout the eighteenth century, who marvelled at the contrasts between the romantic landscape of the gorge and the flames and smoke of the thriving industries. The Iron Bridge in its many representations came to symbolise the dramatic changes underway, bridging the gap from the old world to the new.

Abraham Darby III paid 10 guineas in 1780 to commission this painting of the Iron Bridge. Although the Bridge was then unfinished, Williams shows traffic crossing, admiring onlookers and hardly any industrial activity.
Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge
Acc No: 1992.12918
Williams, William (artist)

Abraham Darby III paid £29 in 1781 to mass produce this image and widen the availability of views of the Bridge. Making engravings and distributing them through bookshops created the best possible advertising for cast iron and the Coalbrookdale Company.
The Cast Iron Bridge near Coalbrookdale
The Cast Iron Bridge near Coalbrookdale
Acc No: CBD59.83.5
Ellis, William (engraver)
Rooker, Michael Angelo (artist)

Before his death in 1788, George Robertson painted six views of Coalbrookdale. They show his keen awareness of the contrast between the beauty of the landscape and the grim realities of industry within the Gorge. This is the only painting known to have survived, although engravings of all six were published and have survived.
Coalbrookdale Shropshire
Coalbrookdale Shropshire - the first iron bridge built in England, completed 1779 and the iron works founded by Abraham Darby 1709
Acc No: 1978.82
Robertson, George (artist)

This view creates much more of a relationship between the Bridge and its surroundings. Benthall Edge towers over the Bridge, the woods appear to surround it and both dwarf the people in the foreground.
The Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale
The Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale, from the Madeley side
Acc No: CBD59.85.1
Fittler, James (engraver)
Robertson, George (artist)

An engraving of a water colour by Burney is of note because it shows a team of bowhaulers on the towpath pulling a Severn trow (barge) upstream.
View of the Iron Bridge over the River Severn, near Coalbrookdale
Acc No: 1973.273
Walker, W. (engraver)
Walker, J. (engraver)
Burney, T.F. (artist)

Edgcombe takes a different view of the Bridge from Williams and Rooker. Edgcombe also shows that the bottom section of the outer ribs were missing, suggesting that he actually observed the Bridge himself.
A View of the Cast Iron Bridge
Acc No: SSMT40
West, C. (aquatinter)
Edgecombe, E. (artist)