Friday, 8 May 2009

Crossings of the River Thames 22b: The Hungerford Railway Bridge/Golden Jubilee Bridges (Part 2)

As promised, I have returned to the Hungerford Bridge to follow up on last month's posting on this particular crossing of the River Thames. I think my gushy outpouring on that post is sufficient to show my love for that particular crossing. So without further ado, here are a few more words and pictures on the elegantly named Golden Jubilee Bridges:

The actual pedestrian bits seem to hang off the railway bridge but they are quite sturdily embeded in the riverbed. Unlike its more famous cousin downstream, this particular crossing does not wobble. Even when a train rumbles next to you, there is not even a tiny sway to topple you off your feet.

The current bridge is a combination of three separate structures. The first Hungerford Bridge was a suspension bridge, now immortalised as the iron bridge in Little Dorrit. It was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to carry foot traffic across the water. But then some choo choo trains needed to cross the Thames and so it was taken over by the South Eastern Railway in order to bring the fair citizens of Kent into the heart of the West End. They railway company ripped the suspension bridge off the piers and instead put a girder bridge in its place. However the walkers were not forgotten as footways were placed becide the railway tracks.

Now, anyone who was around in the 1990's will remember how dilapidated the Hungerford Bridge became. In fact, it was plain crap. A bit of an embarrassment in the centre of Europe's largest city, a windswpt walkway that clung to the side of a busy rail route. It was an unpleasant place to cross the river but this was the sorry state of affairs until the decision was made to reconstruct the pedestrian walkways, on both sides of the bridge. This not just improved on the original crossing, but enabled views upstream of Hungerford to the Westminster shore!

And so onto the third structure on this site. Let us add this up now. We have Brunel's original brick piers (opened in 1845), the railway bridge itself (opened in 1864) and the newly constructed pedestrian bridges (opened in 2002). Not often that you can combine three different designs and three different structures onto one bridge, still heavily utilised in the middle of a very busy city. Cue 'funky' shot:

Come on down to London, it's summer and there are plenty of things to do. And while you are in the centre of town, why not venture to th Golden Jubilee Crossings? If you got someone special take him/her over the Hungerford at night. If your with friends, then cross the bridge on the way to somewhere nice. And if you are a tourist, take advantage of the photo opportunities. How many other crossings can give you such a view of the London skyline?

Getting there and away:

The closest bus routes are the 77 and RV1 on the South Bank and the 388 and Nightbus N550 on the North Bank. On the South Bank the nearest station in Waterloo (Underground and Rail). On the north side of the river Embankment provides the nearest tube link right by the steps to the bridge, while Charring Cross (Rail and Underground station) is a few minutes walk away.


magiceye said...

that was so interestingly informative.

Asad said...

A top profile of a much-maligned (especially in the first part of a certain screenplay/musical) waterway crossing...

el director! said...

thanks guys! oh, and asad, that screenplay may need a location change. how about wandsworth bridge?