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In March 1939 the bridge was saved by the prompt action of a ladies hairdresser, Maurice Childs, who was walking across the bridge on the east side at one AM, and spotted a suitcase. He opened it up, noticed it was smoking then very calmly threw it over the parapet before heading off to call the police. As he reached the call box he heard a dull boom and saw a shower of water shooting up past the bridge followed by a second explosion on the west side of the bridge.
In 1987 art critic, Brian Sewell wrote that the bridge was 'a monument of a low technology rooted in the iron age' and called for a new bridge and the removal of the old one elsewhere for pedestrian use.
Photographs of Hammersmith Bridge copyright Andrew Buurman
The public and architectural profession were very excited when work started on the first Hammersmith Bridge in 1825 as this was to be the first suspension bridge across London's Thames. To mark the start of work on the bridge there was a Masonic Ceremony in May 1925 with the Duke of Sussex Augustus Frederick doing the honours in front of the Grand Lodge and a large crowd. He performed a ritual that involved the fixing of a brass plate (praising the builders and designer) over one of the coffer dams into which had been placed gold coins and a silver trowel. As this was put in place the Duke poured corn over it saying:
I have poured the corn, the oil and the wine, emblems of wealth, plenty and comfort, so may the bridge tend to communicate prosperity and wealth.'
During much of the 1990s the current Hammersmith Bridge was closed to traffic and served quite happily as London's most ornate foot crossing. Painted green and gold, it is a series of flowing swirls, elegant sweeping lines and embossed emblems (sniffily referred to as 'little Frenchy pavilion tops' by the very peeved Sir Nikolaus Pevsner). The bridge is really quite nuts, and certainly more flouncy (if not bouncy) than the earlier suspension bridge. Sir Joseph Bazalgette designed the current crossing which opened in 1887. The wrought-iron framework on the towers and cross-beams is clad in ornamental cast-iron casings to give the appearance of arches. The centre section between these uprights is 122 metres and the bridge as a whole 250 metres long and a 8 metre wide carriageway. The metal appears to cascade down from the towers in fluid, almost organic, waves whose bulk contrast nicely with the far svelter middle section.
Reviews of Cross River Traffic here