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Listing London's bridges, London, United Kingdom

Wednesday 26 Nov 2008

Protecting the spans of time

Hammersmith Bridge 
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Seven bridges listed on advice of English Heritage 

Seven of London’s bridges spanning over a hundred and forty years of Thames crossings were today (26 November 2008) listed by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, acting upon the advice of English Heritage.

Chelsea, Lambeth and Richmond Railway Bridges have all been listed at Grade II, whilst Cremorne, Hammersmith, Twickenham and Vauxhall Bridges have all been listed at, or upgraded to, Grade II*.

Announcing the listing of the bridges, which will give them greater protection against unsympathetic development, Andy Burnham said:

“Bridges have straddled the Thames, uniting North and South London, for centuries. In fact, there is evidence of structures across the river dating as far back as 1500BC. These seven examples represent the very best of Britain’s bridge-building heritage; from one of the first modern suspension bridges in the world to Britain’s only example of sculpture on a river crossing.

“They show British engineering at its best. I believe they should be celebrated and preserved for generations to come.”

The oldest Thames bridge being listed today, Cremorne Bridge, was opened on 2 March, 1863, and is one of the earliest surviving railway bridges to cross the Thames in its original form. It connects the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham with Wandsworth, and was originally built to link up the main northbound lines out of Paddington and Euston stations with the southbound lines from Waterloo, Victoria and Clapham Junction.

The newest, Chelsea Bridge, represented a major step forward in British bridge-building practice. Its construction had used the wood of Douglas fir trees from British Columbia, and it was opened by the Prime Minister of Canada, W L Mackenzie King on 6 May 1937. The bridge itself is 212.7 metres long, 25 metres wide and has heraldic designs on the four tall turrets that guard the entrances to the bridge; two of which have a golden galleon with two shields beneath, one which is decorated with the crests of the counties that surround London and the last, which depicts doves holding olive branches.

The bridge with the most interesting history is probably Lambeth Bridge. Opened on 12 July, 1929 by King George V and Queen Mary, it was built by the same firm who built the Tyne Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The site of Lambeth Bridge was an ancient landing site dating from the 13th century, and was used to receive the monarch on state occasions. Before a bridge was erected, a horse-ferry shuttled between Lambeth and Millbank, hence the name of its western approach road, Horseferry Road. In 1965, it became the first of the Capital’s bridges to be tunnelled beneath to create a pedestrian walkway along the embankment.

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