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Early feminist Mary Wollstonecroft was rescued by a passing boat when she threw herself off the bridge. She had planned to kill herself from Battersea Bridge but it was not private enough for her purposes
Bishops Park on the north bank has a tribute to the International Brigade of volunteers who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War for the Republic against Franco’s fascists. On the other side of the water St Mary's Church was the location of the Putney Debates held in 1647 where the self styled Levellers proposed a whole spectrum of revolutionary ideas just after the English Civil War.
Putney is an area that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once unfairly referred to as 'the cultural desert of South London'. Which is pretty scathing considering the competition
Putney Bridge photos copyright Nikki Kastner.
The wooden bridge completed in 1729 started in (and ran through) the churchyard of St Marys on the Putney side, though builders were careful not to disturb the gravestones, and ended near what is now Fulham bus station. It was a curved timber bridge supported by 26 arches built by Thomas Phillips to a design by Sir Joseph Acworth. It required considerable maintenance, not least because ships kept colliding into it because it was low in the water and the 25 piers were quite close together. In 1870 a barge damaged three central sections and the following year two piers were removed and replaced by a 21 metre iron girder.
The current imposing and attractive granite bridge is the replacement. Putney Bridge was completed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1886 after four years work. It has been described as 'a rainbow in stone', and has 5 arches which have far less of an effect on the river's flow than the previous one. The bridge is a solid straight structure of quiet dignity and beauty built out of Cornish granite with concrete supports. It is less ornate and more traditional than Bazalgette's other Thames crossings giving the impression that is has been there much longer than just over a century. The bridge is 202 metres long, 25 wide (after an operation to broaden it in 1933) and 5.5m high. It was built slightly upstream of the first bridge on the site of the former Chelsea waterworks aqueduct (whose pipes ran under the footpath of the bridge).
There is another crossing nearer the site of the Fulham Bridge . This is a wrought iron girder bridge placed on two piers and four sets of iron girders, two deep, in the river. Designed by William Jacomb and completed in 1889 it is painted a light green. There are eight spans to the bridge with a further two over land on the Surrey side and one on the Middlesex. This robust and practical structure carries the District Underground line to Southfields and uniquely among London's bridges doesn't have a name. The locals call it 'the iron bridge' despite the abutments of brick with Portland Stone dressings on either shore. On the downriver side is London's loneliest pedestrian route with an ornamental cast-iron it's prettier, straighter and less threatening than Hungerford was, even if the graffiti splattered and dark approaches from the Fulham end are less than welcoming.
Reviews of Cross River Traffic here