Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Crossings of the River Thames 9 - Kew Bridge

The North Circular is a wonderful road. Sure, it can get a little crowded, but it is mostly well planned out, it links to major motorways that can whisk you out of London and most of it is dual carriageway.

And then there is the South Circular. Unplanned, haphazard and at some points it feels like the driveways alongside the route are wider than the road itself. South London, yet again, has ended up with the bum rap. But the South Circular has one advantage over its northern counterpart. It actually crosses the river.

Welcome to West London's premiere car park - Kew Bridge. Despite the frustrations normally experienced by drivers crossing the river at Kew, it is one very beautiful bridge. A grand triple arched stone structure, its one hundred years have been mostly uneventful, although the ceremony with which it was opened states something else.

As with many crossings over the river, the history of Kew Bridge stretches far beyond its role as part of London's circular road system. And it has always been popular. The first incarnation was a mixed construction of timber and stone. Proving inadequate a second stone bridge was constructed, but it was too narrow and so due to the demands of the horse and carts of the day, the present structure was built. This might explain the current bridge's popularity with stationary vehicles; back in the day, the fastest drive on four wheels were powered by cute ponies.

London beckons. Let's leave these drab suburbs behind and enter the city proper.

Getting there: Kew Bridge Station (National Rail) for the Northbank along with bus routes 237, 267 and the N9. Bus routes 65 annd 391 cross the bridge while Kew Gardens station (Underground) is a 20 minute walk from the South Bank.

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