Page:A tour through the northern counties of England, and the borders of Scotland - Volume I.djvu/320

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found its level again, and is now carried on as briskly as before. The Sunderland coals are very good, but so slow in their combustion, that they are proverbially said to make three fires.

The greatest object of curiosity in Sunderland is its iron bridge thrown across the river Wear, forming an arch so lofty as to allow large ships to pass under it with only their top-gallant masts lowered. Tom Paine (as I have before observed) was the original inventor of these extraordinary structures, the grandest specimens, perhaps, of the powers of modern art; Mr. Burdon afterwards improved upon his ideas; but Mr. Wilson, who now lives upon Sunderland bridge, put the finishing hand to the invention, by suggesting the perfect plan on which this vast fabric is constructed. It is formed of cast-iron, and cost 30,000l. The span of the arch is two hundred and thirty-six feet; height one hundred; and the spring of the arch thirty-three feet. The foundation-stone was laid on the 24th of April 1793, and the bridge opened for service on the 9th of August 1796. A man who attends at the toll-house for that purpose, introduced us to a platform which commands a view of the interior of the bridge; where our astonishment was still more excited by tracing the detail of this magnificent erection. We here observed that it