'Specimen of Ornamental Structure in Cast Iron', 1851.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate from the 'Official Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of the Great Exhibition 1851'. A cast iron sample made by the famous Coalbrookdale Company of Shropshire for the Exhibition, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in May-October 1851. The Great Exhibition was conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861) to showcase Britain's technological achievements and demonstrate its industrial and economic superiority to the rest of the world. The Coalbrookdale Company was founded by Abraham Darby in 1707, and managed by members of the Darby family until 1849. The company is best known for the building of the world's first cast iron bridge, acros the Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire, which was completed in 1781.