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It was designed and constructed by a local firm, Thornewill and Warham.
It is a three-span footbridge totalling 240 ft (73 m) in length.
The business was founded by iron merchant Thomas Thornewill (born 1691) and his son Francis in 1740; located in Burton's New Street, it made spades and other edged tools.
It remained largely focused on hardware manufacture until the 1840s.
The bridge is made of wrought iron and cast iron, and is Grade II listed.
The bridge was built to replace a small ferry service that had operated at the same site since the 13th century.
In 1865, the Marquis of Anglesey, who owned the rights for the ferry, obtained an Act of Parliament authorising him to build and maintain a bridge over the River Trent.
The bridge was intended to carry all traffic and to be as good as or better than the old Burton Bridge, at that time the only bridge across the river in Burton. In 1885 the Marquis sought parliamentary approval to build a smaller footbridge over the River Trent near the site of the Stapenhill ferry and to sell the ferry rights to Burton Corporation.
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The Ferry Bridge was gifted to the town by brewing magnate Michael Arthur Bass, later Lord Burton.
It was officially opened on Wednesday 3 April 1889, and the ceremony was attended by between 8,000 and 10,000 people.
The chains were made of flat bar iron, and are continuous from one end of the bridge to the other.
They are riveted to the ends of the main girders, not anchored at a distance as they would normally be on a traditional suspension design.