Bridges On The River Thames
If you’re planning a trip to London, then you simply must incorporate a visit to the river Thames into your travels. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to avoid the Thames – it’s not only enormous, but it runs through the very heart of the city, and some of the most important landmarks in the capital are sited on its banks. Alongside the more famous buildings you’ll find a bevy of restaurants, bars, and other establishments – to say nothing of the London wedding reception venues that can be found on the banks of the Thames. If you’re looking for a romantic – or just plain interesting – way to spend a few days in London, then a London River Cruise must surely rank highly among the potential pastimes.
There are over two-hundred bridges crossing the Thames throughout its length, but the most impressive of these are to be found in London. The Thames is crossed at many points throughout its journey through the capital, and the bridges you’ll encounter during a boat trip vary tremendously in size, scope and style. Let’s take a look at a few of the more famous examples, and see what interesting secrets they might conceal.
This is perhaps the most famous of all bridges in the country, thanks mostly to its appearance in popular nursery rhymes. Which might lead visitors to London to be very unimpressed when they finally clap eyes on it. The current incarnation of London Bridge, completed in 1973, is a rather hideous girder bridge made from concrete. It was built to replace an arched bridge completed in the 19th century, which was in turn a replacement for a medieval bridge built six-hundred years prior, which in turn was preceded by a long line of timber bridges, the very first being built by the Roman settlers who established Londinium in the first place.
This bridge is altogether more impressive. It’s a combined bascule and suspension bridge, completed near the end of the 19th century. It comprises two enormous towers, the outside of which carries a suspension bridge to the banks of the river, while the inside houses a bascule drawbridge which allows large liners to pass through beneath. The bridge took eight years to fully construct, starting in 1886, and required that seventy-thousand tons of concrete be sunk into the riverbed to support the structure, and eleven-thousand tons of steel be shaped into the frame for the towers and walkways.
The bridge is extremely large and impressive, particularly when it’s lit up at night-time. If you’re planning a trip along the river, consider a trip beneath Tower Bridge an obligatory part of the experience.
This footbridge can be found between Bankside and the City of London. It’s a suspension bridge whose cables stretch out on either side, allowing pedestrians an unrestricted view of the river on either side. The initial opening was frought with difficulty, with travellers complaining that it swayed alarmingly from side to side. The bridge was then closed on the very same day it opened, and it took two years for appropriate corrective action to be taken.
Nowadays, the bridge is reassuringly stable, and a more modern example of bridge-building in London. Whether you’re walking along the top, or you’re on a barge travelling just beneath it, the Millennium Bridge is an attractive proposition.
This road and foot bridge can be found in such a significant part of the city that it’s easy to overlook the bridge itself. The houses of parliament are just beside it, with the Big Ben-housing clock tower looking down across its length. The London Eye is just down the river on the other bank.
The bridge itself is painted green, ostensibly to match the colour of the seats in the House of Commons. This is in contrast with Lambeth Bridge, which is painted red to match the seats in the lords, and can be found on the other side of parliament. Westminster Bridge is perched atop a series of seven spans, which carry it the eight-hundred-odd feet from one side of the Thames to the other. Finally completed in 1862, it was the result of a protracted struggle among the city’s authorities, which had been bubbling since the 17th century.
Between 2005 and 2007, the bridge underwent a major overhaul, with many of the metal sections being replaced, and the entire bridge being repainted. The result is a structure that’s a treat for the eyes – and if you’re looking to visit the capital on a boat, it’s a must-visit.