London's Thames Bridges basic facts

The following outline descriptions of the London river crossings on the tidal Thames from Richmond to the Tower of London are taken from my book Crossing the River. (ISBN 1-84018-976-2, Published in 2006 by Mainstream)

Albert Bridge (1873). Night-time reflections.
710 ft. long. 40 ft. wide.
Twin ornamental cast iron towers resting on concrete foundations support the carriageway by cable-stayed rods which fan out from the top of the towers, and by suspension chains. In the 1970s, Albert Bridge had to be strengthened by installing two cylindrical concrete river piers to support the carriageway.
Engineer, R.M. Ordish.

Barnes Railway Bridge (1895)
Replaced Joseph Locke's cast iron railway bridge of 1849.
360 ft. long.
Three spans of wrought iron bow string girders carry two railway tracks across the river. Locke's original structure still stands unused on the upstream side.
Engineers, London & South Western Railway. Contractor, Head Wrightson.

Battersea Bridge (1890).
Replaced Henry Holland's wooden bridge of 1771, immortalised in Whistler's painting Nocturne in Blue and Gold.
670 ft. long. 55 ft. wide.
Five spans, each consisting of seven cast iron arched ribs, support the 40 ft. wide roadway and two footpaths which are cantilevered out from the main structure. Ornamental shields in the spandrels and Moorish style arches on the parapet enhance the bridge's appearance.
Engineer, Joseph Bazalgette.

Battersea Railway Bridge (1863)
670 ft. long.
Five iron arched spans are supported by four stone faced river piers.
Engineer, William Baker.

Blackfriars Bridge (1869).
Replaced Robert Mylne’s elegant stone bridge of 1769.
963 feet long, 105 feet wide
Five wrought-iron spans rest on massive river-piers ornamented with red polished-granite columns. The capitals of the columns are carved with interlaced birds and plants, and support pedestrian refuges. Widened from 75 feet to 105 feet in 1909.
Engineer: Joseph Cubitt. Contractor: Messrs P.A. Thom & Co.

Blackfriars Railway Bridge (1886) with headless columns of old LCDR bridge
933 feet long
Five spans of wrought-iron arched ribs support the railroad, which provides seven tracks.
Engineers: John Wolfe Barry and H.M. Brunel. Contractor: Messrs Lucas, Aird

Cannon Street Railway Bridge (1866) with original train shed tower
855 feet long
Five utilitarian spans of wrought-iron plate girders supported by cast-iron columns carry ten rail tracks across the river to the once magnificent Victorian train shed of Cannon Street Station.
Engineer: John Hawkshaw. Contractor: South Eastern Railway

Chelsea Bridge (1937)
Replaced Thomas Page’s much-admired suspension bridge of 1858.
698 feet long, 83 feet wide. Two 55-foot-tall plain, square towers support the suspension chains from which the roadway is hung. At either end, lamp-posts decorated with golden galleons relieve the otherwise unexciting design.
Architects: G. Topham Forrest and E.F. Wheeler. Engineers: Rendel, Palmer and Triton. Contractor: Messrs Holloway Bros (London) Ltd

Chiswick Bridge (1933)
450 feet long, 70 feet wide
Three flat ferro-concrete arches are faced with Portland stone.
Architect: Herbert Baker. Engineer: Alfred Dryland. Contractor: Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd

Golden Jubilee Bridge (2002)
325 metres long, 4.7 metres wide
Two footbridges on either side of Hungerford Railway Bridge are supported by white-painted steel rods which fan out from slanting steel pylons.
Architect: Lifschutz Davidson. Engineer: WSP Group. Contractor: Costain/Norwest Holst

Grosvenor Railway Bridge (1860)
700 feet long
Originally, the four wrought-iron spans carried four rail tracks across the river. In 1965, the bridge was reconstructed in steel and now provides a crossing for ten tracks. In fact, the steel structure consists of ten separate bridges joined together.
Engineer: John Fowler

Hammersmith Bridge (1887)
Replaced Tierney Clark’s elegant structure of 1827, which was the first suspension bridge to cross the Thames.
688 feet long, 33 feet wide
Two river-towers of wrought iron clad in highly ornamental cast iron support steel suspension chains from which the narrow carriageway is hung. The footways are cantilevered out from the main structure.
Engineer: Joseph Bazalgette. Contractor: Messrs Dixon, Appleby and Thorne

Hungerford Railway Bridge (1864)
Replaced Brunel’s suspension footbridge, the chains of which were removed for use in Clifton Suspension Bridge.
1,200 feet long
Nine wrought-iron girders are supported on cast-iron cylinders and on the two arched brick river-piers preserved from Brunel’s suspension bridge. The bridge was widened in 1886 to increase the number of railway tracks from four to eight.
Engineer: John Hawkshaw. Contractor: South Eastern Railway

Kew Bridge (1903)
Replaced Robert Tunstall’s wooden bridge of 1759 and James Paine’s stone bridge of 1789.
360 feet long, 56 feet wide
Three rough granite elliptical arches are enhanced by the ornamental shields of the counties of Middlesex and Surrey carved into the walls.
Engineer: John Wolfe Barry. Contractor: Easton Gibbs

Kew Railway Bridge (1869)
575 feet long
Five wrought-iron lattice-girder spans supported on cast-iron columns with ornate capitals carry two railway tracks across the river.
Engineer: W. Galbraith

Lambeth Bridge (1932)
Replaced P.W. Barlow’s suspension bridge of 1862.
776 feet long, 60 feet wide
The five arches of the bridge, supported by granite-faced riverpiers, are faced with flat steel plating to disguise the steel skeleton that lies behind. The red colour scheme is intended to reflect the red furnishings of the nearby House of Lords. Pineapple obelisks stand at the approaches.
Architect: Reginald Blomfield. Engineer: George W. Humphreys. Contractor: Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd

London Bridge (1973) with City skyline
Replaced John Rennie’s London Bridge of 1831, which itself replaced the inhabited Old London Bridge of 1209.
860 feet long, 104 feet wide
Three cantilevered high-strength concrete arches have spans of 260 feet, 340 feet and 260 feet. The only decorative features are the granite obelisks on the river-piers and the polishedgranite facing of the parapet walls.
Architect: Lord Holford. Engineers: Mott, Hay and Anderson.

London, Chatham and Dover Railway Bridge (1864) insignia.
933 feet long
Five spans of wrought-iron lattice girders were supported by massive cast-iron columns. The superstructure was removed in 1985, leaving just the headless columns and its insignia.
Engineer: Joseph Cubitt. Contractor: Kennards of Monmouthshire

Millennium Bridge (2002)
325 metres long, 4 metres wide
The flat steel suspension bridge carries pedestrians over the river between Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral. Also known as the ‘Wobbly Bridge’ because of the swaying that occurred at its official opening in 2000. The bridge was closed while the problem was solved using a system of dampers.
Architect: Foster and Partners. Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners. Contractors: Monberg & Thorsen/Sir Robert McAlpine

Putney Bridge (1886)
Replaced the wooden Fulham Bridge of 1729.
700 feet long, 74 feet wide
Five segmental granite arches span the river with All Saints Church, Fulham, at the northern end and St Mary’s Church, Putney, at the southern end.
Engineer: Joseph Bazalgette. Contractor: John Waddell

Putney Railway Bridge (1889)
750 feet long
Five turquoise wrought-iron lattice girders supported by pairs of cast-iron cylinders provide two railway tracks for the District Line.
Engineer: William Jacomb. Contractor: Head Wrightson

Richmond Bridge (1777)
280 feet long, 36 feet wide
Five segmental arches are constructed in masonry faced with Portland stone. Widened on the upstream side in 1939.
Architect: James Paine. Engineer: Kenton Couse. Contractor: Thomas Kerr

Richmond Footbridge, Lock and Weir (1894)
300 feet long, 28 feet wide
Twin high-level footbridges pass over a lock capable of handling six river barges and a weir controlled by lifting sluice gates. Originally hand cranked, the sluice gates are now raised by electric power.
Engineer: F.G.M. Stoney. Contractors: Ramsomes and Rapier

Richmond Railway Bridge (1848)
300 feet long
Three 100-foot steel girders are supported on stone-faced land arches and two stone-faced river-piers. The original castiron girders were replaced by steel in 1907.
Engineer: Joseph Locke

Southwark Bridge (1921)
Replaced John Rennie’s three-span iron bridge of 1819.
800 feet long, 55 feet wide
Five steel arches are supported by four stone river-piers, which are topped by pierced lunettes for decoration.
Architect: Ernest George. Engineer: Mott, Hay and Anderson. Contractor: Sir William Arrol & Co.

Tower Bridge (1894). Massive chains framing the Tower and Gherkin
380 feer long, 60 feet wide
Central drawbridge with two bascules of 1,100 tons each, originally raised by steam-driven hydraulic power, today by electricity. Two 300-foot steel towers clad in granite and Portland stone support the bascules as well as a 200-foot-high walkway which is cantilevered out from the towers. Suspension chains support the road spans from the riverbanks to the two towers.
Architect: Horace Jones. Engineer: John Wolfe Barry. Contractors: Sir William Arrol & Co. and William Armstrong

Twickenham Bridge (1933)
280 feet long, 70 feet wide
Three reinforced-concrete arches are supported on concrete river-piers, with bronze plated permanent hinges at the springings and centres to allow adjustments due to changes in temperature.
Architect: Maxwell Ayrton. Engineer: Alfred Dryland. Contractor: Aubrey Wilson Ltd

Vauxhall Bridge (1906)
Replaced James Walker’s bridge of 1816, which was the first iron bridge to be built over the Thames in London.
759 feet long, 80 feet wide
The appearance of the structure of five steel arches is enlivened by the heroic-sized statues which stand in front of each of the river-piers.
Architect: W.E. Riley. Engineers: Alexander Binnie and Maurice Fitzmaurice. Contractor: Petwick Bros

Wandsworth Bridge (1940)
Replaced J.H. Tolmé’s five wrought-iron arches of 1873.
619 feet long, 60 feet wide
Three steel cantilever spans are supported by granite-faced river-piers in a typically plain LCC design.
Architect: E.P. Wheeler. Engineer: T. Pierson Frank. Contractor: Messrs Holloway Bros (London) Ltd <

Waterloo Bridge (1945)
Replaced John Rennie’s 1817 bridge of nine semi-elliptical granite arches, which was once described by Canova as ‘the noblest bridge in the world’.
1,200 feet long, 80 feet wide
Five spans of reinforced concrete clad in Portland stone cross the river between the modernist concrete structures of the South Bank Centre and the classical stone structure of Somerset House on the north bank. Externally, the spans appear as elegantly flat arches, but the underlying structure consists of steel box-girders.
Architect: Giles Gilbert Scott. Engineer: Rendell, Palmer and Triton. Contractor: Sir William Arrol & Co.

Westminster Bridge (1862)
Replaced Labelye’s beautiful but unsafe stone bridge of 1750.
748 feet long, 85 feet wide
Seven elliptical cast- and wrought-iron arches supported by granite piers cross the river between the former County Hall and the Houses of Parliament. Gothic shields in the spandrels and ornamental shields emblazoned with the arms of England and Westminster provide decoration appropriate to the site.
Architect: Charles Barry. Engineer: Thomas Page. Contractor: Thomas Page

For information on Crossing the River:

© Copyright Brian Cookson 2006