From London Bridge to Battersea Bridge: 31 Things You Didn’t Know About London’s Bridges

Anybody who’s ever spent time wandering around London will understand the importance bridges play in shaping the city. Without them, boroughs north, south, east and west would sit disconnected, separated by the winding snake that is the River Thames. Many of London’s bridges date back hundreds of years, with a rich history tied to empire and monarchy. They’ve endured wars, floods, closure, regeneration and, in turn, facilitated the movement of traffic and trade.

When the Romans established Londinium in 50 AD, the only way to get across the Thames was by boat. And so it was that a pontoon style military crossing was built – replaced shortly after by a timber piled one – in what has come to be known as the very first version of London Bridge. Since then, another 30 have joined the list, providing fast connections across the city and equally impressive views.

For many, London’s bridges are simply a way to get from A to B, but we think the rich and interesting history of these feats of engineering deserves a bit more recognition. So, here are 31 fascinating facts about London’s bridges:

Tower Bridge

 

Did you know that more than 400 construction workers were required to build Tower Bridge, along with 11,000 tons of steel?

London Bridge 

Did you know that London Bridge is reportedly home to a large number of bats, said to hide in the crevices of its hollow exterior?

Cannon Street Railway Bridge 

Did you know that Cannon Street Railway Bridge was the site for the Marchioness disaster of 1989: a fatal collision involving two vessels which resulted in the death of 50 people?

Southwark Bridge 

Did you know that Southwark Bridge has famously appeared in a number of films including Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Mary Poppins?

Millennium Bridge

Did you know that there are more than 400 works of art adorning Millennium Bridge? Street artist Ben Wilson’s masterpieces are a unique combination of chewing gum and acrylic paint.

Blackfriars Railway Bridge 

Did you know that there have been two structures sharing the title of Blackfriars Railway Bridge? One which opened 1864, as part of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, and a second in 1886, originally named St Paul’s Railway Bridge?

Blackfriars Bridge

Did you know that Blackfriars Bridge, in its original form, took a total of nine years to the build, and was the third bridge in London to cross the Thames?

Waterloo Bridge 

Did you know that Waterloo Bridge also bears the nickname, Ladies’ Bridge, on account of it being built by a largely female workforce during the Second World War?

Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges

Did you know that Hungerford Bridge is almost fifteen hundred feet long, while the adjoining Golden Jubilee Bridges were named in acknowledgement of the Elizabeth II’s fiftieth anniversary as Queen?

Westminster Bridge

Did you know that Westminster Bridge was painted green to reflect the colour of the seats in the House of Commons?

Lambeth Bridge

Did you know that the stone pinecones mounting Lambeth Bridge’s obelisks at either end are commonly mistaken for pineapples? Rumour has it they actually are pineapples, and were created in tribute to John Tradescant the Younger: a Lambeth resident said to have grown the first pineapple in Britain.

Vauxhall Bridge

Did you know that the piers of Vauxhall Bridge feature eight vast bronze statues, each representing a different theme? The eight themes are agriculture, architecture, engineering, pottery, science, fine arts, local government and education.

Grosvenor Bridge

Did you know that Grosvenor Bridge was the very first railway bridge in central London? Were you also aware that it’s been expanded three times in the last 150 years, in 1866, 1907 and 1967?

Chelsea Bridge

Did you know that a number of Roman and Celtic artefacts and skeletons were discovered during the construction of Chelsea Bridge (formally Victoria Bridge) in the mid-nineteenth century?

Albert Bridge

Did you know that Albert Bridge has a big dog urine problem? Lack of open-spaces on the north-end of the river has given dog walkers no choice but to visit Battersea Park (to the south), and therefore cross Albert Bridge in the process. Severe rotting can be observed on the bridge’s timber deck structure.

Battersea Bridge

Did you know that Battersea Bridge has had to be reconstructed several times as a result of the great many accidents and collisions it’s seen down the years? An 1885 version of the bridge famously appears in a beautiful painting by Victorian artist, John Atkinson Grimshaw.

Battersea Railway Bridge

Did you know that Battersea Railway Bridge is a Grade II* Listed structure, meaning it’s protected from unsympathetic development?

Wandsworth Bridge

Did you know that Wandsworth Bridge was originally painted drab blue as camouflage against air raids? It retains the same colour scheme to this day.

Fulham Railway Bridge

Did you know that Fulham Railway Bridge doubles both as a rail crossing and pedestrian crossing? This makes it great for cyclists.

Putney Bridge

Did you know that Putney Bridge is one of the many observation points for the annual Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race?

Hammersmith Bridge

Did you know that Hammersmith Bridge is officially the lowest bridge on the Thames, with a water clearance of just 12 feet?

Barnes Railway Bridge

Did you know that plans are underway to turn Barnes Railway Bridge into a fully-fledged garden crossing – similar New York’s High Line – with varied plantings and carefully placed benches?

Chiswick Bridge

Did you know that Chiswick Bridge is an important transport route, and listed among London’s 20 busiest Thames road bridges?

Kew Railway Bridge

Did you know that Kew Railway Bridge is the place where Doctor Who’s TARDIS materialises in a 1964 episode of the BBC sci-fi series?

Richmond Lock and Footbridge

Did you know that Richmond Lock and Footbridge came about as a result of a law being passed in parliament to bring water levels under control between Richmond and Teddington?

Twickenham Bridge

Did you know that Britain’s first speed camera was installed on Twickenham Bridge in 1992?

Richmond Railway Bridge

Did you know that Richmond Railway Bridge was met with great health & safety concerns upon construction? The three 100-foot cast iron girders used in the original bridge aroused fears for their structural integrity. They’ve since been replaced with steel girders.

Richmond Bridge

Did you know that Richmond Bridge is the oldest surviving bridge running across the Thames in greater London?

Teddington Lock footbridges 

Did you know that between the two Teddington lock footbridges lies a small beach overlooking the Thames?

Kingston Bridge and Kingston Railway Bridge

Did you know that Kingston Bridge and Kingston Railway Bridge borrow their names firstly from the English “kings” crowned in the area, and secondly from the coronation “stone” visible near Kingston Guildhall?

Hampton Court Bridge

Did you know that Hampton Court Bridge is often referred to as one of the ugliest bridges in England, on account of its look and design against the surrounding area?

Sources

http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/01/05/the-bridges-of-old-london/

http://www.fandmpublications.co.uk/pages/crt.htm

http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/london-attraction/bridge#icDvxFA6O1oMPCYA.97

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bridges_in_London

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/england/london/south-east/london-bridge/articles/Tower-Bridge-fascinating-facts-and-figures/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannon_Street_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwark_Bridge

https://londonist.com/london/features/millennium-bridge-trivia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackfriars_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackfriars_Bridge

http://londonist.com/london/history/secrets-of-waterloo-bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungerford_Bridge_and_Golden_Jubilee_Bridges

http://londonist.com/2016/08/secrets-of-westminster-bridge

http://londonist.com/london/history/secrets-of-lambeth-bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grosvenor_Bridge

http://londonist.com/london/features/secrets-of-chelsea-bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bridge,_London

http://londonist.com/2016/10/secrets-of-albert-bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battersea_Bridge

http://londonist.com/2015/07/battersea-bridge-125-years-of-collisions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battersea_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandsworth_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulham_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putney_Bridge

https://londonist.com/london/history/secrets-of-putney-bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammersmith_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiswick_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kew_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Lock_and_Footbridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twickenham_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Bridge,_London

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddington_Lock_Footbridges

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Bridge,_London

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Railway_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Court_Bridge

 

 

 

 

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