King George V

The antique arcades

Gaol Fever

London Eye Barracuda

Westminster bridge (part seven)

Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-95), tiger screen

Tower Gateway

Madeira Cake

West Acton

London bridge (part eleven)

A day in the life

Westminster bridge (part four)


Jade terrapin

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Waterloo bridge (part four)In April 1924 the LCC took the decision to rebuild and widen the bridge, and plans were made to erect a temporary bridge alongside it. They hoped to keep the bridge open until this was installed, but in May further subsidence forced the LCC to close the bridge to carry out emergency repairs. This involved taking up part of the roadway to reduce the load on the sinking pier, and building supports for the arches on either side of it. On 30 June the bridge was reopened for pedestrians only. On 14 July the bridge was reopened to vehicular traffic, including buses, but with a weight limit of 10 tons, and a speed limit of 3 mph over the site of the subsidence, where the roadway had been replaced with a timber surface.

Waterloo bridge (part three)In 1878 electric street lighting was tested on Victoria Embankment, and in the following year the experiment was extended to Waterloo Bridge, where ten lights were installed, the power being supplied by a French company, the Société Générale d'Electricité. These were among the first London thoroughfares to be lit by electricity, and the experiment was considered to be a success, so the system used proved to be rather expensive, and the scheme was abandoned. Electric lighting was permanently installed on the bridge in 1897, but the replacement of the original lamp standards, said to have been made from captured French cannon, caused an outcry in some quarters.
Waterloo bridge (part two)The artist John Constable was probably present at the opening of the bridge and made a number of sketches at the time. He planned to show a large painting of the opening at the Royal Academy in 1820, but he put it to one side and did not return to the subject for several years. He started a new version in 1829 and the finished picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832, to mixed reviews. This striking and, for Constable, unusual urban landscape is now in Tate Britain, and there are several other versions, one of which can be seen at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.
Waterloo bridge (part one)Built on a wide bend in the river, Waterloo Bridge is the longest bridge in London. It also has some of the finest views in London, with splendid vistas in each direction, upstream towards the Gothic towers of the Houses of Parliament and downstream to the baroque dome of St Paul's Cathedral surrounded by the many skyscrapers of the modern City.
Hungerford bridge (part four)Not even the Luftwaffe could destroy the Hungerford Bridge. During an air raid in 1941Charing Cross station was hit, and a parachute mine landed on the bridge but failed to explode. During a complicated and dangerous six-hour operation, Lieutenant Gidden managed to defuse the bomb and was later awarded the George Cross for his bravery. In June 1944 a V1 flying bomb hit the bridge, knocking out two lines, but it was back in operation by the following day.
Hungerford bridge (part three)By the time the bridge opened, the Victoria Embankment was being built as part of Bazalgette's great new sewage system, incorporating the Metropolitan District Railway as well as water and gas pipes. Hawkshaw had made allowances for the fact that the embankment would reach as far as Brunei's northern pier, especially as it was not possible to delay work on the bridge until the start of this major construction project.Today the pier stands hard against the footpath, evidence of the huge amount of land reclaimed for the Victoria Embankment. In 1882-8 the bridge was widened on the upstream side by Francis Brady, then the engineer for the South Eastern Railway. To do this, he widened Brunei's brick piers and added a further row of cast-iron piers, but the footway on that side was not replaced. In 1979 all the iron was replaced with steel in a major rebuilding scheme.
Hungerford bridge (part two)The bridge cost £102,000 to build but, although it proved to be a great success, Brunei was not paid for his work for at least a year. Ten thousand people paid the toll daily to cross the bridge, and these numbers grew with the opening of Waterloo station in 1848. The piers were also used as landing places for the steamboat companies, which offered popular trips on the Thames.
Isambard Kingdom Brunei (1806-59)Isambard Kingdom Brunei is considered by many to be the greatest civil engineer of the nineteenth century. His father, Marc Isambard Brunei, was also an important engineer, but the son's career eclipsed that of his father. Born in Portsmouth, Isambard was educated in London and Hove, and then sent to France to study with a leading clockmaker, returning at the age of sixteen to finish his apprenticeship with his father. At this time his father was working on the construction of the first tunnel under the Thames, from Wapping to Rotherhithe, and Isambard became chief assistant engineer on the project. The tunnelling was highly dangerous and the Thames often broke through into the work, with much loss of life. Isambard was nearly killed during one such incident and took no further part in the project.
Hungerford bridge (part one)The present bridge is an oddly successful combination of an ugly nineteenth-century railway bridge with two modern hi-tech footbridges attached. Rather confusingly, the present structure is known by three different names. It is best known as the Hungerford Bridge, its original name, but it is also called the Charing Cross Railway Bridge after the railway station it serves. The new footways are officially known as the Golden Jubilee Bridges, though few people use the name.
Westminster bridge (part seven)It has long been thought that the Romans crossed the Thames by a ford at Westminster, but there has never been any definite proof. In 1952 Lord Noel-Buxton decided to test the theory, and crowds lined the bridge to watch the attempt, but after walking halfway he was forced to swim the rest of the way. In 1967 another attempt was made by an accountant called Ian Spofforth, who was 7 feet 2 inches tall. He took an hour to walk across with the aid of a pole, and occasionally hanging on to a dinghy. Neither of them really proved anything, as the Thames at this point in Roman times was much wider and shallower than it is today.