Bridges have played a major part in the way that London has developed but are often the source of some confusion for visitors to London.
At the last count there were 34 bridges over the Thames , however we will concentrate on the main bridges in Central London. So here is a short guide to give you some insight into some of London’s most intriguing structures.
Tower Bridge was built 1886–1894 is a combined bascule and suspension bridge, lying close to the Tower of London. This year celebrating its 120th birthday it has become one of the iconic sights of London. Often at the centre of celebrations on the river and raises its roadway to let shipping through on a regular basis.
Tower Bridge is often called by visitors “London Bridge”, however London Bridge is further downriver and is one of the most historic crossings in London.
London Bridge refers to several historical bridges that have spanned the River Thames between the City of London and Southwark. The current bridge dates from 1973, this replaced a 19th-century stone-arched bridge which was transported to the United States to become a tourist attraction. The 19th century bridge replaced the famous 600-year-old medieval bridge.
Even before the medieval bridge there were a number of timber bridges dating as far back as the Romans.
Until 1729, London Bridge was the only road crossing across the Thames in the London area.
Southwark Bridge is an arch bridge opened in 1921, a previous bridge on the site, designed by John Rennie, opened in 1819, and was originally known as Queen Street Bridge.
The Millennium Bridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames linking Bankside with the City of London. Construction of the bridge began in 1998, with the opening in June 2000.
After its somewhat uncertain opening ( it was nicknamed the “Wobbly Bridge” because of the movement), It quickly became a favourite of both Londoners and visitors linking St Pauls to the Tate Modern and the Globe.
Blackfriars Railway Bridge is a railway bridge, the first bridge was opened in 1864 which became unsafe and was dismantled, however the series of columns were left as well as the Southern abutment. The second bridge opened in 1886.
Blackfriars Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge the first bridge on the site opened to the public in 1769, at the time it was the third bridge across the Thames in London. It was originally named “William Pitt Bridge”
The present bridge which in 1869 was opened by Queen Victoria is 923 feet long, it become internationally known in 1982 when the body of Roberto Calvi an Italian banker was found hanging from one of the arches .
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge.
The first bridge on the site was designed in 1809-10 by John Rennie opened in 1817 . During the 19th century the bridge gained a somewhat unfortunate reputation as a popular place for suicide attempts.
However it is considered the views from the bridge are some of the most picturesque on the river and the bridge became a popular subject for artists.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, serious structural problems were found on Rennie’s bridge and the decision was made to demolish it, it was eventually replaced by a new bridge which opened in 1945.
Completed during the war and using a number of women in the workforce, the bridge is sometimes called “the ladies’ bridge”.
Waterloo Bridge was the scene of a ” Cold War ” murder when in 1978 ,Georgi Markov a Bulgarian dissident was assassinated by agents connected to the KGB
The Hungerford Bridge crosses the River Thames in London, and lies between Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge. It is a railway bridge flanked by two pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge’s foundations, and which are named the Golden Jubilee Bridges. in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession.
Westminster Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames linking Westminster on the north side and Lambeth on the south side.
Although a bridge at Westminster was proposed in the 17th century, it was not 1750 that Westminster Bridge finally completed. In the 19th century the bridge was in poor condition and the decision was made to replace it. The current bridge opened on 24 May 1862, It is the oldest road bridge across the Thames in central London.
The bridge is painted mainly green, to reflect the same colour as the House of Commons whose position of the Palace of Westminster is nearest the bridge. This is in contrast to Lambeth Bridge which is red, the same colour as the House of Lords and is on the opposite side of the Palace of Westminster.
Lambeth Bridge is a road traffic and footbridge crossing the River Thames , it is on the site of the horse ferry between the Palace of Westminster and Lambeth Palace on the south bank.
The first bridge was opened in 1862 , but with doubts about it safety in 1910 it was closed to vehicles.
The present bridge was opened in 1932 .
The Museum of London will be putting on an exhibition between the 27th June and 2nd November 2014 called Bridge which features paintings, prints, photographs and films.
For more information visit their website here
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