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Light fantastic for Iron Bridge from Telford 50 Legacy fund

By Discover Telford, 08 March 2018, 15:11PM

The borough’s most famous structure the iconic Iron Bridge is set to get year round illumination thanks to a Council fund to mark Telford’s 50th anniversary celebrations and support from Arts Council England.

The world famous bridge the central landmark of the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site , is set to get a new lighting scheme that will allow the bridge to be fully illuminated year all round as well as feature the latest in lighting effects and colour projections to light the bridge on special national and local events. 

Telford & Wrekin Council is funding the new lighting installation of the bridge a Scheduled Monument and Listed Building, which would allow it to be fully lit throughout the year.

The illumination of the Iron Bridge is an initiative the Council has been working on for some time. This project would benefit the local community and provide new appeal for visitors, while enhancing Ironbridge’s  night time economy. 

The permanent bridge lighting scheme follows a trial in 2015 when the Iron Bridge was illuminated as one of the world’s outstanding cultural landmarks during the Night of Heritage Light.   

The new system would be permanent and allow the bridge’s east and west sides also to be lit together with additional lighting downstream. The lighting scheme will have the ability to use different colours, levels of lighting and special effects for different events.

Work to install the lighting system is expected to start in the summer and be completed before the end of the year when repair work on the Iron Bridge by English Heritage will also finish.

The project is funded by a £40,000 grant from the Council’s £2 million Telford 50 Legacy Fund. This supports a mix of physical schemes as well as other projects that help tackle some important social issues in the borough and reduce demand on council services. The Council has also secured a further £30,000 from the Arts Council England as part of the destinations Cultural Destinations project to attract more international and national visitors.

Cllr Rae Evans, cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, said: “This is  something that people in the Gorge have been asking for a long time and it will be great to see it finally come about.

“We want a lighting scheme that will really enhance the Iron Bridge, its status as one of the UK’s top heritage attractions and that will really help to showcase to the world what we have here in the borough. 

It will also bring this in line with many other World Heritage Sites which are lit up at night and it is only thanks the Telford 50 Legacy Fund and the Arts Council England for their support of the scheme that we are able to do this

“This will leaving a lasting reminder of Telford’s 50th anniversary that benefits the borough and I am sure attract more visitors here helping to support many tourism jobs and businesses for many years to come.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “The lighting up of the bridge will be a glowing reminder to the people of Telford of their rich heritage, it is something everyone can take pride in. 

 “The iconic landmark is a great example of what can happen when industry meets creativity and ambition, and we are pleased that it will now be seen and enjoyed by both locals and visitors all year round. The permanent lighting installation will provide a rich array of opportunities for artists, designers and community groups to join up and animate and celebrate the waterways of the Midlands.”

The Council is currently procuring a lighting designer to install the lighting system and work on this is expected to start in the summer.

Almost 1,400 people took part in a consultation in summer 2017 to find out what people wanted to see supported as a legacy of Telford 50. Some of the most popular themes included heritage and tourism, arts and culture and recreation.

The Telford 50 Legacy Fund has already earmarked almost £1m to help community groups refurbish or buy community buildings and facilities in the borough, while a further £50,000 is being used to enhance open spaces chosen by the public in the Big Green Vote