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Pytney bridge (part four)
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The proposal was put forward again in 1921, but again nothing happened, but in 1929 the London County Council (LCC) finally agreed to widen the bridge by 30 feet, and the work was carried out from 1931 to 1933. The stonework on the downstream side was removed, the piers and roadway widened and the original stonework replaced, so that the bridge retained its appearance. The old stonework was cleaned to blend in with the new, but the join can clearly be seen on the underside of the arches. The original three-branched gas lamps were replaced and are still among the finest on any of the London bridges. They are of cast iron, and at the base of each one is a reminder that the bridge was built by the MBW, a roundel with the coats of arms of the areas under their jurisdiction. Underneath the two central lamps on both sides are parish boundary plaques, marked ‘PP/FP 1886’, also preserved in the widening. Because of the widening of the approaches, the two parish churches at each end of the bridge had to lose part of their graveyards, with the LCC having to pay for the reburial of the bodies removed. The widened bridge was opened on 23 August 1933, with no ceremony. By contrast, in 1995, after the bridge was closed for six months for repairs, its reopening was celebrated with a street party and fireworks.


Pytney bridge (part four)



Since 1845 the annual University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge has started from Putney Bridge. Looking down from the upstream side of the bridge, one can see the red stone that marks the starting point of the race. At each end of the bridge are churches with very similar towers. Both churches were rebuilt in the nineteenth century, except for their fifteenth-century towers, that of St Mary, Putney, by Edward Lapidge, who designed the present Kingston Bridge. St Mary’s was where the ‘Putney Debates’ took place in 1647, under the chairmanship of Oliver Cromwell, an important event in the development of parliamentary democracy. On the north bank, behind the parish church of All Saints, is Fulham Palace, which was the residence of the Bishops of London until 1975 and is now a museum.

In September 2006 the Thames at Putney Bridge represented the River Ganges for a day. A statue of the Bengali goddess Durga, created for the British Museum by Bengali craftsmen, was submerged in the river close to the bridge as the climax to the Durga Puja festival.

Shortly before Christmas 2007 a number of large holes were discovered in the granite wall of the approach road to the bridge from the Lower Richmond Road. It seems that a local property developer had used a diamond-tipped drill to try to gain access to vaults there which connect to the basement of a property on Putney High Street, as part of plans to open a riverside restaurant. As the bridge is a Grade 2 listed structure, and as no planning permission had been given, the developer was taken to court by Wandsworth Council. It is to be hoped that the unsightly damage can be made good.

Pytney bridge (part four)

Putney Bridge today. Note the fine triple lamp standards.


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