Bridging the Gap

Posted on November 27th, 2009 in Travel by

Bridging the Gap

The Thames has famous bridges, with a long history. The bridges were added as London grew to allow access to North and South of the Thames, whether by foot, car or train.

The River Thames divides the city into northern and southern halves making navigation reasonably easy. The central area and the most important sights, theatres and restaurants are within the Underground’s Circle Line on the north bank of the river. Trendy West End lies within the western portion of the loop and includes Soho, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square.

The bridges across the River Thames are a vital part of London’s transport infrastructure. The City of London owns and maintains four road bridges which require sustained and expert maintenance to ensure they are fit for their job as gateways to the City.

Tower Bridge is an internationally-recognized landmark which to millions of tourists epitomizes London; Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894. Apart from the Millennium footbridge, it is the most recently constructed of the City of London-owned bridges. Its initial design was by Horace Jones, with John Wolfe Barry as the engineer and George D Stevenson as his architectural assistant. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. In its heyday in Victorian times the bridge would open more than 6,000 times a year; now it opens for river traffic about 900 times a year. During its construction Tower Bridge was known as the Wonder Bridge because, as well as being the largest, most sophisticated bascule bridge ever built, it also used hydraulic power on a scale never attempted before.

Blackfriars was the City of London’s second bridge, opened in 1769 to designs by Robert Mylne. It was replaced in 1869 by the present iron and steel structure designed by Joseph Cubitt and H Carr. It was widened between 1907 and 1910.

Southwark Bridge was originally built during the period 1814-1819 by John Rennie the Elder. The City of London in bought it in 1868. The original cast iron structure was rebuilt in steel between 1912 and 1921 to a design by Mott &

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Hay as engineers and Sir Ernest George as architect. It was reopened by King George V in 1921.

Millennium Bridge was the first new pedestrian bridge to be built across the Thames for over a century; the Millennium footbridge links the City with Bank side. Ownership of, and responsibility for the bridge was transferred to the City of London in February 2002, when the bridge re-opened following successful remedial work to remove its ‘wobble’. Open throughout the year, it provides an invaluable link between communities north and south of the river.

Albert Bridge is one of the few suspension bridges in London; the Albert Bridge is also among the most attractive, especially when lit at night. It Spans the river between Chelsea and Battersea. The Chelsea suspension bridge links Chelsea with Battersea between Ranelagh Gardens and Battersea Park and the Grosvenor railway bridge runs parallel. Vauxhall Bridge features a number of ornamental sculptures by F W Pomeroy and Alfred Drury. Lambeth Bridge features five spans, some pleasing decorative iron-work and obelisks at either end topped by pineapples.

Westminster Bridge established one of the most important links across the Thames, joining the ever expanding area around Westminster to what is now Waterloo.

To really enjoy a trip to London one must view the sights from bridges which span river Thames.

Bridging the Gap / Anil Gupta

Anil Gupta recommends that you visit for more information on london hotels.