1902 Encyclopedia > London > London - Thames Embankment; Bridges

(Part 7)


Thames Embankment. Bridges.

The Thames Embankment, with its marine wall of large granite blocks facing the river, supports on the north side a spacious thoroughfare which forms one of the fines promenades in London. The total cost of the various portions of the embankment was over £3,000,000, the greater part of which is being defrayed by the coal and wine duties levied by the City corporation. By the construction (1864-70) of that portion known as the Victoria Embankment stretching from Blackfriars Bridge to Westminster, about 37 acres of land have been reclaimed, of which 19 are occupied by carriage and footways, 7 1/2 have been conveyed to adjoining proprietors, and about 8 have been formed into ornamental grounds. The Albert Embankment (1865-68), stretching on the south side of the river from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge, includes about 9 acres, which are now chiefly occupied by St Thomas’s Hospital. The Chelsea Embankment (1871-74), which is the extension of one previously constructed between Vauxhall Bridge and Chelsea Hospital, involved the reclamation of about 91/2 acres of ground, now occupied partly by a roadway 70 feet, wide, and partly by a flower garden.

There are twelve bridges, other than railway bridges, over the Thames within the metropolitan area, the most easterly being London Bridge and the most westerly Hammersmith Bridge. Three or these, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and Blackfriars Bridge, are within the City area. New London Bridde, a noble structure by Rennie, was opened in 1831, having cost £1,458,311. as populous and busy commercial districts extend for several miles to the east of it on both sides of the Thames, it is not only totally inadequate for the requirements of traffic, but is also removed beyond many convenient lines of communication. On this latter account the proposal to widen it – in itself a very unsatisfactory plan – has met with almost no support; but a bill promoted by the Metropolitan Board for erecting a high level bridge at the Tower failed also to commend itself to a committee of the House of Commons. Until 1769, when the Blackfriars Bridge was erected, London Bridge stood alone. Old Blackfriars Bridge was replaced in 1869 by the present one of five iron arches resting on granite, erected from the designs of Page at a cost of £320,000. Southwark Bridge, designed by Rennie, 1815-19, consists of three iron arches of great elegance resting on stone piers, and cost £800,000. Partly from the unsuitability of its approaches; it has not proved of very much service.

The number of passengers vehicles passing over the London and Blackfriars Bridges in a single day of 1823 is given in the July number of the Monthly Review for that year, and in 1881 similar information was obtained, in regard to the bridges, for the traffic in the direction of the City. Multiplying these figures by two, we find that the foot passengers crossing London Bridges in 1823 numbered 89,640, while in 1881 they were 157, 886, and that the number of vehicles had increased from 6182 to 21,466; that over Blackfriars Bridge the passengers had increased from 61,069 to 87,134, and the vehicles 4047 to 15,584, while 30,090 passengers and 3560 vehicles passed over Southwark Bridge, the increase in the number of passenger over the three bridges being thus 124,401, and of vehicles 28,381. at the earlier date Southwark Bridge was practically unused, but in 1865 the toll was abolished, and the bridge purchased by the corporation for £218,860. The Metropolitan Toll Bridges Act of 1877 required the Metropolitan Board to extinguish the tolls on all the Thames bridges and the bridge over Deptford Creek, and thereafter to repair and maintain them, the county authorities of Middlesex and Surrey paying each £200 a year towards their maintenance. The bridges freed by the ACT were the Charing Cross foot-bridge, for which £98,540 was paid to the South-Easterm Railway; Waterloo Bridge (1811-17), designed by Rennie in a style similar to London Bridge, constructed at a cost of £1,000,000, and purchased for £475,000; Lambeth Bridge (1862), built of iron at a cost of £40,000, and purchased for £36,049, Vauxhall Bridge (1811-16), similar in form to Southwark Bridge, erected for over £300,000, and purchased for £225,230, Chelsea Suspension Bridge (1858), designed by Page, erected by the Government for £88,000, purchased for £75,000; the Albert Suspension Bridge (1873) and Battersea Bridge, an old wooden structure, both purchased for £300,000; Wandsworth Bridge for £52,761; Putney Bridge (1729), a picturesque old timber structure, for £58,000, and Hammersmith Bridge for £112,500. Battersea and Putney bridges are about to be re-erected, and Deptford Creek Bridge is to be widened and improved at a cost of £109,091. The total amount of money spent by the board in connection with bridges up to 18th December 1881 was £1,479,697. The amount to be paid by the board for their maintenance in 1882 is estimated at £90,502. The river is crossed by many railway bridges, and the Thames tunnel, begun in 1825 and completed in 1843, at a cost of £468,000, for the purposes of traffic, was purchased in 1865 by the Great Eastern Company, and is now used as a railway tunnel. A subway under the Thames from Tower Hill to Tooley Street was constructed in 1869 at a cost of £16,000. the communication in the neighborhood of the river is greatly facilitated by the frequent passenger steamers

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