SIMON WHALEY

Lick of Paint

I don’t know if I still like you. You’re familiar, yet different. You’re still the same shape. You’ve reatined your claim to fame: the world’s first. But … But.

Your make up. What were you thinking? Who says that was your original foundation colour? And what is that colour? Even English heritage don’t seem to be sure, opting for a hyphenated blur: red-brown. Is that a reddy-brown colour, or a browny-red one?

I call it rust. Which, let’s face it, for the World’s first iron bridge is probably not good. What was wrong with the iron-grey we’ve had for however many years it is? The clue’s in the name: iron-grey. Get it? Iron-grey makes sense. Rust doesn’t. Rust sounds … dangerous. Which is probably why English Heritage went for red-brown.

The iron bridge in it’s previous iron-grey make-up

But … But. The lighter colour does something. It reveals detail. Details in your structure. Relief is detectable in this light. Look hard enough and I can see each indentation, each hammer-strike, each moment of creation. Perhaps iron-grey wasn’t as good as highlighting that detail.

The Iron Bridge (after repainting in 2018) crossing the River Severn in Ironbridge Gorge, Ironbridge, Shropshire

A lot will depend upon the light. Iron-grey wasn’t great on a grey, cloudy day. Red-brown doesn’t look great against a silt-shifting River Severn flowing beneath you. But look up at your vast structure from the bankside against a clear, vibrant blue sky and your radiate. Radiate solidity.

A red-brown bridge across a brown-silt-stirring Severn

So, perhaps … Perhaps.

We don’t do change very well, here in the Welsh Borders. Apparently. I still don’t know if I like you. But perhaps I may get to love the new you. In red-brown.

St Luke’s Church above the Iron bridge spanning the River Severn in Ironbridge Gorge, Ironbridge, Shropshire

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