Model of Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, 1779.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model made in 1787. The development of coke smelting in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire by Abraham Darby and his family in the 18th century revolutionised the production of iron and helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. The iron bridge represented by this contemporary model was the first in the world to use cast iron structurally and was commisioned because ferry traffic on the River Severn had become busy and expensive. The bridge was designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard and built by Abraham Darby III, who gave this model to the Society of Arts in 1787.