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Vauxhall bridge (part three)
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Alfred Drury was selected as the principal sculptor, to be assisted by George Frampton and Frederick Pomeroy, but Frampton dropped out through pressures of work and the sculpture was carried out jointly by Drury and Pomeroy. Each of the monumental statues weighs about 2 tons, and they were installed in the autumn of 1907. Looking downstream are Drury's representations of Science (holding a globe), the Fine Arts, Local Government and Education. On the upstream side are Pomeroy's figures of Pottery, Engineering (holding a steam engine), Architecture (with a model of St Paul's Cathedral) and Agriculture. Vauxhall Bridge is still the only one of London's Thames bridges to be decorated with sculpture.

The bridge originally had rather basic 8-foot high iron railings, but in 1973 they were replaced by the Greater London Council with the present, much lower balustrade, which, though more attractive than the original, was strongly criticised as an act of vandalism in some quarters.

The new Vauxhall Bridge was the first bridge in central London to carry trams. At first, it was crossed by the old-fashioned horse-drawn trams, but they soon gave way to the new electric trams. The last ones ran in 1951, when they were replaced in turn by buses. Another 'first' for the bridge came in 1968, when, along with Park Lane, it became the first street in London to have a bus lane. During the weekday evening rush hours, the central lane was reserved for southbound buses only.

Traffic over the bridge soon increased considerably and Vauxhall Cross, at the Lambeth end of the bridge, became seriously congested. In the 1930s a new traffic system was created, which included a huge 'roundabout', forcing vehicles going from Kennington towards the bridge to take a long detour. In the 1960s the Greater London Council proposed further changes, including a massive flyover, but these were turned down by Parliament. Vauxhall Cross was completely reconfigured in 2004, with a new bus station at its centre, topped by a striking ski-jump roof, the work of Arup Associates.


Vauxhall bridge (part three)

Frederick Pomeroy's monumental bronze statue, Agriculture, on the upstream side of Vauxhall Bridge.



Since the late 1970s there have been a number of controversial schemes to erect skyscrapers on unoccupied sites alongside the bridge on the south bank.The first was the infamous 'Green Giant', which was planned for a site opposite the Tate, but this was rejected in 1980 as being too overpowering for the area. A competition was later held for a development on both sides of the bridge, but the winning developer was unable to raise the money to build it, and the site remained undeveloped for many years.The downstream side is now occupied by the Vauxhall Cross building designed by Terry Farrell, which was completed in 1995. It houses MI6, the secret service, and everything has been designed so that one cannot see what is going on inside. On the upstream side are the towers of the St George Wharf residential development, with its unusual gull-wing roofs, which opened in 2006.

Looking downstream from the bridge, there are good views down to Lambeth Bridge and beyond to the London Eye. Over to the left is Tate Britain, the Pimlico branch of the Tate, which houses the British collections. A very striking vessel to be seen here occasionally is a bright yellow Second World War DUKW amphibious craft, which drives down a slipway on the right into the Thames as part an unusual sightseeing tour of the capital.

Upstream from the bridge on the south side is an outfall pipe with water pouring from it. This is where the now enclosed River Effra reaches the Thames. Very close to here, and visible only at low tide, are the timbers of a Bronze Age causeway discovered in 1993.




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