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Bridges of London, London
Bridges of London
Guide Location: England » London
Guide Type: Self-guided city tour
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.0 km
Image Courtesy of Flickr and damo1977
Author: clare
This self-guided walking tour is included in the iOS app "City Maps and Walks (470+ Cities)" in iTunes and the Android app "London Map and Walks" in Google Play.
Thirty-four bridges span the Thames in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. Take this walking tour to appreciate the beauty of London bridges.
Tour Stops and Attractions
Lambeth Bridge
1) Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Bridge spans the River Thames between Lambeth Palace on the East side of the river and Thames House (headquarters of MI5), Millbank Tower and Tate Britain on the West side.

This fine foot and road bridge was designed by Sir George Humphries, Sir Reginald Blomfield and G. Topham Forrest and built by Dorman Long. It was inaugurated by King George V in 1932.

The bridge is 776 ft long and 60 ft wide; its steel latticework is painted red – the same colour of the benches in the nearby House of Lords at the South end of the Palace of Westminster. At each end of the bridge you will find a pair of obelisks, topped by what might either be pineapples or pinecones - no-one ever agrees about them. From the middle of the bridge, you have a good view of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.

The bridge was used in the third Harry Potter film, where the Knight Bus squeezes between two red double-decker London buses. It has also been used in the BBC drama “Waking the Dead” and in the film “Blood Diamond” with Leonardo Di Caprio.

Every year, on 28th August you will find a crowd of ghost hunters on the bridge, recording equipment at the ready to capture an image of the ghost of the Duke of Buckingham who was murdered nearby in 1628.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Tagishsimon
Sight description based on wikipedia
Westminster Bridge
2) Westminster Bridge
“Earth hath nothing to show more fair,” wrote William Wordsworth, while looking out over early morning London from Westminster Bridge in 1802. Of course, he was standing on the first bridge, constructed in 1750 by the Swiss architect Charles Labelye.

The bridge you can cross today was opened in 1862 and was designed by Thomas Page, who also worked on the designs for the Thames Embankment. The bridge spans the Thames from the County Hall and the London Eye on the East side of the river to the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben on the West side.

The foot and road bridge is 827 ft long and 88 ft wide with 7 arches of wrought iron with Gothic details. Because of its proximity to the Houses of Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, it is painted in the same green as the colour of the benches in the House. It is also because of this proximity to the seat of British power, that many people mistake it for London Bridge, which is further downstream.

According to popular legend, Jack the Ripper threw himself off the bridge on the last stroke of midnight on 31st December 1891, to escape being captured and identified.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Iridescent
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hungerford Bridge
3) Hungerford Bridge
In 1845 the Hungerford Bridge was a suspension bridge that farmers from the south of England used for crossing the River Thames when they freighted their produce to the Hungerford Market, which was the most important market in the south of the capital at that time.

In 1859 the bridge was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company, who wanted to build a railway bridge from the south of England to the capital. Businessmen working in London were leaving their city houses to live in the country suburbs and they wanted to travel to the capital in comfort.

The old suspension bridge was replaced by a railway bridge with nine arches of wrought iron lattice girders, designed by Sir John Hankshaw. The Hungerford Market was replaced by Charing Cross Station, which was named after the Cross of Eleanor, the wife of Edward 1st. When Eleanor died, King Edward 1st commissioned a cross to be erected wherever his wife’s body rested during the 12 day journey from Lincoln before being buried in Westminster Abbey. One of the crosses was erected in the hamlet of Charing on the outskirts of the ancient City of London.

In 2002 two cable-stayed foot bridges were added on each side of the railway bridge because the Council of London wanted to encourage pedestrian tourists. These foot bridges share the same pier foundations as the railway bridge and are accessible either by steps or by lift for the disabled.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and ChrisO
Sight description based on wikipedia
Waterloo Bridge
4) Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Thanks to its location at a strategic bend in the river, the views of London from the bridge are widely held to be the finest from any spot at ground level. The first bridge on the site was designed in 1809-10 by John Rennie and opened in 1817 as a toll bridge. From 1884 serious problems were found in Rennie's bridge piers. London County Council decided to demolish the bridge and replace it with a new structure designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The new crossing was partially opened in 1942 and completed in 1945. The south end of the bridge is the area known as The South Bank.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Adrian Pingstone
Sight description based on wikipedia
Blackfriars Bridge
5) Blackfriars Bridge
To get to the Tate Modern from the Inns of Court, you will, of course, cross the Blackfriars Bridge, which received Grade II Listed status in 1972. The Bridge House Estates own the bridge and are responsible for its upkeep.

This foot and road bridge is 923 ft long with five wrought iron arches to match its sister railway bridge, now demolished. It was built by the P.A. Thom & Company firm to designs by Thomas Cubitt and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869.

As you cross, you will notice stone carvings by John Birnie Philip on the piers of the bridge: on the East side the carvings represent marine life, with a variety of seabirds; on the West side you can see carvings of freshwater birds. These birds are there to remind us that the Thames is both a sea and fresh water river.

The bridge takes its name from an earlier bridge that was used by the Blackfriars, a Dominican Order of friars who wore black habits, rather than the more usual brown ones. They had a priory near the site of Blackfriars Station from 1275 until 1538, when it was closed by King Henry VIII during his Dissolution of Monasteries campaign.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Adrian Pingstone
Sight description based on wikipedia
Millennium Bridge
6) Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge has three claims to fame: it is the newest bridge to span the Thames; it is the only pedestrian-only bridge in London and it holds the record for being the bridge with the shortest opening-closing time in history, as it was closed only two days after being inaugurated.

The bridge was designed, as its name suggests, to be opened in 2000, the start of the 21st century. In 1996 Southwark Council held a competition and invited architects from all over the world to design a new bridge that would reflect the new century and the future. The designs proposed by Foster & Partners and Ove Arup & Partners won the competition and work on the new bridge began in 1998.

The startlingly modern suspension bridge is 325 metres long with 8 suspension cables, built deliberately low to avoid spoiling the view of St Paul’s Cathedral on the North bank of the river. These cables are tensioned to pull with a force of 2000 tons against the piers set into each bank.

The bridge was opened on 10th June 2000 with an organised walk for the Save the Children Fund. The walkers noticed that the bridge had a strange swaying motion – for want of a scientific word, they said that the bridge “wobbled”. The bridge was closed two days later and didn’t reopen until 2002 when the problem, called Synchronous Lateral Excitation, was solved by the introduction of 32 fluid-viscous dumpers to control the horizontal movement and 52 tuned mass dumpers to control the vertical movement of the bridge.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Arpingstone
Sight description based on wikipedia
Southwark Bridge
7) Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge is an arch bridge for traffic linking Southwark and the City across the River Thames, in London. It was designed by Ernest George and Basil Mott. It was built by Sir William Arrol & Co. and opened in 1921. A previous bridge on the site, designed by John Rennie, opened in 1819, and was originally known as Queen Street Bridge, as shown on the 1818 John Snow Map of London. The bridge was notable for having the longest cast iron span, 73 m, ever made. The bridge provides access to Upper Thames Street on the north bank and, due to the Ring of steel, there is no further access to the City and the north. This has led to a reputation of it being the least used bridge in central London and it is sometimes known as the "car park bridge" as coach drivers use it to park their vehicles. The current bridge was given Grade II listed structure status in 1995.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Steve F-E-Cameron
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cannon Street Railway Bridge
8) Cannon Street Railway Bridge
Cannon Street Railway Bridge spans the River Thames between Southwark Bridge upstream and London Bridge downstream.

The bridge isn’t very attractive – it has a rather utilitarian look about it with its steel girders and cast-iron Dorric pillars. When it was designed in 1863 by John Hankshaw and John Wolfe-Barry for South Eastern Railway, it had decorations and ornaments, but these were removed during the bridge’s complete renovation in 1979.

In 1989 the pleasure boat Marchioness sank near the bridge. During a party on board, the Marchioness’ side was torn open by the Bowbelle, a dredger. The Marchioness turned over and the Bowbelle drove it under the water. Of the 131 passengers on board, 51 were drowned.

Cannon Street Station also designed by John Hankshaw and John Wolfe Barry and was opened in 1866. It was built on the site of the medieval Steelyard, the main trading centre of the Hanseatic League. The building was damaged during the Blitz of 1941 and was rebuilt in the nineteen fifties, but of the original building, only the twin towers on the riverside and the outer walls remain.

The station isn’t used a lot, except during rush hours for trains coming from Sussex and Kent. Most trains arrive at Charing Cross or London Bridge Stations.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and David Jones
Sight description based on wikipedia
London Bridge
9) London Bridge
We all know the children’s nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”. Today’s London Bridge is not falling down, but its predecessors were all destroyed during wars or by fires.

The first bridge to span the Thames at this spot was a Roman pontoon bridge built in 50 AD, replaced in 55 AD by a piled bridge, which was destroyed in 60 AD by Queen Boudicca. The bridge was rebuilt but fell into disrepair when the Romans left. It was rebuilt in 990 and again destroyed – this time by Prince Olaf in 1014.

The Norman Bridge built in 1067 was destroyed in the London Tornado of 1091. King William II had it rebuilt but this time it was ravaged by fire in 1136. The stone bridge built in 1173 had a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket in the centre and houses and shops were built along the bridge, making the passage for carts and wagons very narrow. Fire destroyed the North end in 1212 and the South end in 1633. The South gateway was used for over 300 years as a place where traitor’s heads were put up on pikes for the edification of the general public.

In 1756 the houses were removed from the bridge and a new bridge was built in 1831. This bridge was sold in 1968 to an American millionaire and transported piece by piece to be reassembled at Lake Havasu in Arizona. The current bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

Don’t miss the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs – the scariest attractions in the capital. You will find them in the Gothic vaults under the bridge. In the London Bridge Experience you will be led by actors through the history of the bridge. London Tombs takes place in an ancient plague pit and is very frightening. Children of under 11 aren’t allowed in.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and burge5000
Sight description based on wikipedia
Tower Bridge
10) Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. Its present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour. Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Yorick Petey
Sight description based on wikipedia
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