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The Metropolitan Board of Works made sure no one was in any doubt about who was responsible for the bridge. Above each of the tower arches are the date 1887 and the monogram of the MBW, and the monogram is repeated on the capitals of the towers. On the anchorages at each end of the bridge are the royal coat of arms surrounded by the arms of the authorities within the MBW area. Moving clockwise from the City of London crest on the left are the County of Kent (horse), Guildford representing Surrey (castle), the City of Westminster (portcullis), Colchester representing Essex (cross and three crowns), and Middlesex (three swords).

The new bridge was opened in a rather muted ceremony on 18 June 1887 by Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, who later the same day laid the foundation stone of another Bazalgette bridge, the new Battersea Bridge. The fine iron gas lamps were not installed on the bridge until the following year, and in 1910 they were converted to electricity (the lamps now on the bridge are fibreglass copies). Bazalgette originally had the bridge painted in a shade of pink, but in 1888 it was repainted in bronze green with gold-leaf highlights. After the Second World War it was painted a dull grey, at the time a traditional colour for bridges, but in 1986 it was decorated in its present colours, green and gold. In 1893 two rows of seats were added to the walkways on each side of the bridge, a unique feature among London’s bridges, which allows one to rest and admire the view.

In 1902 there were serious proposals to run a tram service over the bridge, which would have entailed replacing it only fifteen years after its last rebuilding, but common sense prevailed and nothing came of the plans. This was just as well, as twenty years later the bridge, now a major entry point into London from the south¬west, was becoming badly congested, and in 1927 the Royal Commission on Cross-River Traffic again recommended that the bridge be replaced with a wider one, though, yet again, no action was taken.

Hammersmith bridge (part four)

The present Hammersmith Bridge.

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