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Hampton Court Bridge (part two)
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By the 1860s the bridge was owned by Thomas Newland Allen and, to gain public support for his scheme to replace it, he promised to reduce the tolls. During demolition of the old bridge and construction of the new one, a replacement ferry service was provided. The new bridge was designed by a Mr. Murray and consisted of five spans made of wrought-iron lattice girders, supported by four pairs of cast-iron columns. To each of the piers was attached Mr. Allen's cast-iron coat of arms, and one of these can still be seen on a wall on the Surrey side of the bridge. The walls on the approaches and the tollhouse on the north bank were of brick and white stone to blend in with the palace. The bridge opened on 10 April 1865. Opinions on the new bridge were mixed. According to one critic, it was 'one of the ugliest bridges in England', while the Illustrated London News claimed that 'the architectural style is in harmony with the Tudor portion of the palace'. In 1874 the Impressionist artist Sisley lived in the area and painted a number of views, several of them featuring the iron bridge.

In 1876 the bridge was bought from Mr. Allen by the Metropolitan Board of Works and freed from tolls. On 8 July there was a grand ceremony, during which the tollgates were taken down and burnt. The iron posts that held the tollgates were later erected outside St Mary's Church in Hampton, apparently to keep grave-robbers out of the graveyard, and they can still be seen there today. The tollhouse has been converted into a bar of the Mitre Hotel, and the castellated brick abutments are still visible on both sides of the river.


Hampton Court Bridge (part two)

Mr Allen's coat of arms from the iron bridge, now displayed on the south side of the current bridge.
The present Hampton Court Bridge, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to blend in with the nearby palace. It was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1933.


In 1901 the London United Tramways Company, as part of its plans to extend its services into west London, wished to run a service over the bridge and offered to pay towards the cost of the widening of the bridge, but nothing came of the idea.

By 1922 the bridge was deemed to be unsafe and a weight limit of 5 tons was imposed. It was clear that the old bridge could no longer cope with the increasing traffic and would have to be replaced. Agreement was reached between the Middlesex and Surrey County Councils in 1927, and the plans were approved by the Thames Conservancy Board in 1929.The new crossing, at 70 feet wide, more than three times the width of the previous one, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built by the Surrey County engineer, W. P. Robinson. Work began in September 1930 on a new alignment, a little downstream from the earlier bridge, which remained in use until the new one was finished. The Castle Inn, on the Surrey bank, dating from the seventeenth century, was demolished to make way for the new approaches, and the Mole and Ember rivers had to be diverted. The new bridge has three spans of ferro-concrete, which is clad in hand-made red bricks and Portland stone so that it is visually in keeping with Wren's part of Hampton Court Palace. Originally the bridge was to have square pavilions at each corner, in the style of Wren, but, to save money, their construction was postponed and in the end they were never built. The spaces where they would have stood can still be seen. Mounted on the parapet are unusual Art Deco lamp standards.

The bridge was unofficially opened to traffic on 9 April 1933 with a torchlight procession, and the official opening was carried out on 3 July by the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII). It was the last of three bridges he opened that day, the others being the new Twickenham and Chiswick bridges. The main ceremony was held at Hampton Court, and it was here that the Prince unveiled a commemorative plaque in the centre of the bridge.


Hampton Court Bridge (part two)

Engraving of the third, iron, bridge at Hampton Court which opened in 1865.

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