We asked you five questions all about iron. Here come the answers!
- The world’s first iron bridge was built near Coalbrookdale, Shropshire. In what year was it completed? For a bonus point, which river does it span?
Construction work on the bridge started in 1777 and was completed in 1779. The village on the north bank of the Severn that has grown up beside it is called, appropriately enough, Ironbridge. In 2017-18 it received a £3.6m restoration, including a new paint job to return it to its original red colour.
- Haematite is one of two “direct shipping ores” which can be fed direct into a blast furnace without refinement. What is the other?
Magnetite. At 72.4% by mass, pure magnetite is the richest of all iron ores and (as the name implies) can be magnetised. Pure haematite yields slightly less iron at 69.9%. The other major ores (goethite, limonite and siderite) have substantially less iron content. Some estimates suggest the world’s accessible iron ores could be exhausted as early as 2070.
- Which nineteenth-century statesman was nicknamed the Iron Chancellor?
Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898). He became Minister-President of Prussia in 1862 and used a combination of cunning diplomacy and timely warmongering to weld a new German nation by 1871 (of which he became Chancellor) which excluded Prussia’s larger rival Austria. He was forced to retire in 1890 by Kaiser Wilhelm II, whose missteps led Germany into the disastrous First World War.
- Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech named two cities at either end of the dividing line across Europe. Which were they?
Stettin (now Szczecin) in Poland and Trieste, which at the time was a Free Territory under UN Security Council responsibility.Although Churchill’s speech is the most famous use of the idiom in an international context, he wasn’t the first; Joseph Goebbels had used it the previous year. The original “iron curtains” were the safety curtains commonly used in theatres to prevent fires from spreading from the stage to the house.
- “Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.” Name the song and the author.
“In the Bleak Midwinter”, written by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) as a poem called simply “A Christmas Carol” in January 1872. Rossetti started writing poetry from an early age (her first dated poem was in 1842). Although initially close to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists to which her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti belonged, she grew to dislike the monotony of the style, particularly its treatment of female models.
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