B is for Bridges #atozchallenge

2016-03-10 23.15.08

Tower Bridge, easily the most famous of London’s bridges and the only open to rise up, from London bridge

Day two and we focus on the magnificence of the river that curvves through London, the Thames.

Or rather on its crossings. There are 33 Bridges once the Thames becomes tidal at Teddington, many miles inland from the sea and there are plenty more as the river slows to a trickle out in Gloucestershire. For today we will look at a few in central London.

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Hungerford Bridge on the north bank; today is is always busy with tourists

Crossing the Thames is easy. There are two footbridges: the Millennium or wobbly bridge (so named after 200,000 people climbed onto it at its opening and the engineers realised it wasn’t as stable as it needed to be so immediately closed it for two years – this is after all the country that brought you Fawlty Towers, Mr Bean and Boris Johnson);

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Look north on the Millennium Bridge and there is St Paul’s Cathedral and the pedestrian steps to the frontage

and Hungerford Bridge where pedestrians walk alongside the railway into Charing Cross  station and down onto the Embankment – these footbridges were also rebuild at the millennium to replace a dreadful narrow muggers alley (infamously, in 1999 a law student was tossed off the bridge by murderous hooligans) and which dad knew as the longest urinal in Europe after a night’s drinking on the south bank.

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On the Millennium Bridge looking south to the former power station and now Tate Modern Art Gallery

There are also two foot tunnels out to the east at Greenwich and Woolwich, together with three road tunnels at Rotherhithe, Blackwall and Dartford, where the last bridge to span the Thames, before we reach the sea proper, also sits.

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In 2015 the Chewing Gum artist, Ben Wilson was commissioned to paint the 400 or so pieces of old chewing gum that had been buried into the groves on the Millennium bridge. Here are a couple of examples.

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No 2. When I took these pictures I must have been stopped at least a dozen times to be asked what I was doing and started something of a craze.

The remaining bridges (other than three railway bridges: the Hungerford above, the Blackfriars Station Bridge which had the longest span of solar panels on its roof in the UK and the one into Cannon Street Station next to Southwark bridge) are open to cars and pedestrians.

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Southwark Railway Bridge; the Victorian railway engineers built those towers because they could; I wonder if they ever had a use.

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Blackfriars railway station built onto the bridge in the last five years; the rather grand looking building behind is in fact the home of Unilever the soap to tea makers; in the far distance to the left is the Post Office Tower

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Waterloo Bridge which was built by mainly female labour during WW2 and was in fact the only bridge damaged by the bombing – for a time it was known as the Ladies Bridge. It has to be the blandest, singularly dullest bridge across the river.

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Southwark Bridge, with St Paul’s peering over the top. You can see the beach as the tide recedes. The Thames is incredibly dangerous through the city as it is now so severely embanked the race as the tides turns would defeat most swimmers. These days, at least you don’t need to have you stomach pumped too as the water, despite its murky colour from the churned silt, is remarkably clean. As of 2014 125 species of fish have been found in the tidal Thames together with a bottle nosed whale in 2006 (sadly it didn’t survive), dolphins and a pod of porpoises near Tower Bridge.

2016-03-16 12.20.30

Blackfriars Bridge, looking south

Rather notoriously Blackfriars bridge shot to fame in 1982 when a post office worker spotted Roberto Calvi, head of the Italian Bank, Banco Ambrosiano, hanging from one of its struts. It was assumed to be a mafiosi killing.

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Westminster Bridge; the building to its immediate left is the old County hall now home to hotels, the London Aquarium and an exhibition space. If you look the other way (but more of that anon) you will see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

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and to booken this tour, finally Tower Bridge

This is part of the 2016 A to Z Blogging challenge. Please click here to find your way to other participants.

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About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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29 Responses to B is for Bridges #atozchallenge

  1. Lisa Reiter says:

    I love, love, love London’s bridges! Tower Bridge is my favourite – viewed from More London closely followed by Millennium Bridge – running across it like Harry Potter! Lovely post! 😀 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jan says:

    Having walked the Thames I’ve seen many of the bridges but didn’t know of their colorful histories! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tower bridge is by far the most impressive. Loved your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gordon759 says:

    It reminds me of the wonderful Kipling poem;

    Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew,
    Wanted to know what the River knew,
    For they were young, and the Thames was old
    And this is the tale that River told –

    “I walk my beat before London Town,
    Five hours up and seven down.
    Up I go till I end my run
    At Tides-end-town, which is Teddington.
    Down I come with mud in my hands
    Which I spread all over the Maplin Sands.
    But I’d have you know that these waters of mine
    Were once a branch of the River Rhine,
    When hundreds of miles to the east I went
    And England was joined to the Continent.

    I remember the bat-winged-lizard-birds,
    And the Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,
    And the giant tigers that hunted them down
    From Regent’s Park to Camden Town.
    And I remember as yesterday
    The very first Cockney who came my way,
    As he pushed through the forest that lined the Strand,
    With paint on his face and a club in his hand.
    He was death to feather and fin and fur.
    He trapped my beavers at Westminster.
    He netted my salmon, he hunted my deer,
    He killed my heron off Lambeth Pier.
    He fought his neighbour with axes and swords,
    Of flint or bronze, at my upper fords,
    While down at Greenwich, for slaves and tin,
    The tall Phoenician ships stole in,
    And Norseman and Negro, Gaul and Greek
    Drank with the Britons in Barking Creek,
    And all was gay, and the world was new,
    And I was a mile across at Kew!
    But the Roman came with a heavy hand,
    And bridged and roaded and ruled the land,
    And the Roman left and the Danes blew in –
    And that’s where your history-books begin!”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Sacha Black says:

    wicked – love that you are doing a different ‘thing’ for each one – didn’t know it was called the wobbly bridge either! haha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘The Thames is tidal at Teddington’ could become a famous Le Pard invented tongue twister. A wonderful tour, very informative and with a few chuckles over morning coffee. Most enjoyable!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AJ.Dixon says:

    Another wonderfully informative post! 😊 I always enjoy hearing the story about the Millenium Bridge!

    Like

  8. Norah says:

    I’m pleased to say I’ve even crossed a couple of those bridges! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. merrildsmith says:

    Thank you for the wonderful tour of London’s bridges! I never knew there were so many over the Thames.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gulara says:

    Spectacular! I am always blown away by the magnificence of bridges in London. I remembered my first visit to London in 2003 and walking from bridge to bridge 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Waterloo Bridge may be the dullest, but it got me to and from work for many years. I once stood on Lambeth Bridge, on New Year’s Eve, to watch the fireworks. It was the nearest I could get to the brilliant display. Magic moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I nearly killed my children by taking them to the Embankment on Millennium night. The crush was ridiculous and I should have known better. Never got to see them properly in the end

      Like

  12. Keiley Blair says:

    I just LOVE your pictures! Keep ’em comin!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Solveig says:

    I have always been a fan of bridges. They are always so nice to look at and photogenic. There was just one time when I did not enjoy a bridge, it was a tiny one in a parc but wasn’t very stable, it was definitely vibrating, I guess they should have closed it for some time too to fix it…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lata Sunil says:

    Beautiful historical tour with the bridges.

    Liked by 1 person

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