Jug in Sunderland lustre ware depicting Sunderland (Wearmouth) Bridge, 1813.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sunderland ware jug with transfer print designs, showing the bridge over the River Wear, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear by Dixon and Co, Sunderland. Although the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale, completed in 1781, was a structural success, it did not at first lead to similar bridges elsewhere. Thomas Paine, a political thinker, experimented with iron bridges in the 1780s and one of his proposals was for a bowstring truss of cast iron. The concept was used for a bridge over the River Wear at Sunderland, in north-east England, designed by William Yates and Thomas Wilson. Its span, nominally 73.15 m was over twice that of the Coalbrookdale Arch. The bridge opened in 1796 and was a structural and financial success. For many years it was regarded as a triumph of cast iron and was depicted on a wide range of souvenirs such as this jug.