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Pharos Controls the Furnace at the World’s First Iron Bridge

A symbolic celebration of the Industrial Revolution, The Iron Bridge in Shropshire is a cast iron bridge that spans the River Severn. Opened in 1871, it was the first bridge anywhere in the world to be made of cast iron. In 2017-2018, English Heritage undertook a £3.6 million conservation project, carrying out much needed repairs.

And now, nearly 150 years since its incarnation, the bridge is beautifully illuminated thanks to a completely new lighting scheme. The new lighting not only celebrates the conservation project, its launch also marked the 50th anniversary of Telford new town.

The lighting scheme was designed by Liz Peck, Design Principal at LPA Lighting and Bob Bohannon. With a strict brief from English Heritage, that included nothing being mounted on or under the bridge, as well as no cables running through it or across it, the scheme needed to meet very specific requirements.

When added to the complications of the potential flood risk which often blights the area, alongside the desire from Telford and Wrekin Council to illuminate the downstream side, the resulting lighting scheme is complex and required several elements.

As part of the design, controllability was essential. Lee Engineering was appointed to the project to specify and commission the control system. Lee Engineering chose a Pharos LPC (lighting playback controller) for its flexible and reliable 24/7 control, integration with photocell sensors, and compatibility with Lumenradio’s wireless DMX for communicating to lights across the river.

Pharos LPC + Lumenradio’s technologies overcome the cabling restrictions and the 4G router allows Telford & Wrekin Council to change programmes and schedule from any computer or smartphone, with a Pharos BPS (Button Panel Station) backup in place to ensure system robustness in case of signal failure, and for onsite testing.

The Pharos control system comprises a single LPC 1 unit, which controls 17 light fittings and supports the final lighting effects: a warm white light scheme during the week and an innovative, dynamic blend of red and amber overlaying a dimmed white scheme for the weekend. This stylised animated scheme was designed to replicate the historic furnaces and forges that once glowed in the surrounding area and is affectionately called ‘furnace mode’. The visual is created by altering the intensity of the red and amber floodlights across the bridge.

Unveiled during the Ironbridge Festival, the newly illuminated and aesthetically stunning bridge has been warmly welcomed by residents, visitors, and businesses.

Tim Edwards, Technical Sales Manager, Pharos Architectural Controls, saysIt is always a great feeling to work on heritage projects as they celebrate our proud history and achievements of the past. The Iron Bridge is a magnificent structure and the new lighting scheme by LPA Lighting is simply stunning. The contribution that Pharos technology has made to the visual effects is something we are very proud of, and we are delighted we could be part of this impressive project.

Daniel Gregory, Lee Engineering, adds, Pharos are our go-to controls technology provider. The reason – the products do everything we want them to do, and more. We have never had a project where Pharos has let us down, even our first project we specified them on which was almost 15 years ago!