London – Hammersmith and Fulham (Borough of) – Hammersmith Bridge

This is from my visit to London a couple of weeks ago and there’s something of a debacle about this whole Hammersmith Bridge arrangement. The bridge was first constructed here in 1827 and was paid for by tolls, with these charges finally being removed in 1880. All looked rather well for the local denizens, they had their bridge and they didn’t have to pay to use it. So, all rather lovely.

Anyway, then a boat ran into the bridge in 1882, so it was thought that it had better be replaced. Joseph Bazalgette, best known for his construction of the London sewers, designed a new bridge and this sat on the same pillars as the previous structure.

The bridge has struggled to cope with the weight of traffic placed on it throughout the twentieth century, it was never designed to deal with such volumes. It also hasn’t helped that the IRA have tried to blow it up in 1939, 1996 and 2000, all of which hardly helped with the structural integrity of the bridge.

In 2014, the bridge was temporarily shut to motor traffic because of concerns about the safety of the structure, with this temporary closure effectively becoming permanent. A single bus was allowed to go over at any one time, but then Transport for London decided to remove its staff who were monitoring this, before an agreement was made. There has been a lot of arguing between Transport for London and the local council about this whole matter and who is paying for what, which seems to be the real reason for the delay. Cyclists and pedestrians were allowed to keep using the bridge, but then on 13 August 2020, this was then banned as well.

The Government announced it was going to come up with a solution, but to cut a long story short, it announced that motor vehicles won’t be returning until at least 2027. I’m not sure how it takes that long to fix a bridge, but then I’m not a civil engineer…..