The Iron Bridge is being returned to its original colour by English Heritage following the discovery of samples of the landmark’s earliest paintwork during the charity’s £3.6m conservation project.
Detailed analysis revealed that the bridge was originally painted in a very dark red-brown lead-based oil paint – the same colour depicted in William Williams’ 1780 painting, Cast Iron Bridge near Coalbrookdale, one of the earliest records of Abraham Darby III’s pioneering structure, which was built in 1779.
English Heritage’s Dr Heather Sebire says, “Uncovering the original colour has been a fascinating mix of archive research work and detailed forensic investigation. We’d already found some clues, but the decider was the results of our analysis of the historic paint, revealing red-brown beneath centuries of historic dust and paintwork.
“While the bridge is in scaffolding, visitors will be able to see it up via our walkway and watch our painters transform this revolutionary structure to its original red-brown. And when the scaffolding comes down at the end of the year, we’ll reveal one of the most important bridges in the world in all its glory.”
The walkway is open daily until the end of August, from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free, though donations are encouraged. Visit english-heritage.org.uk/project-iron-bridge for more details.