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Westminster Bridge Photo

Bridge Incidents:

James Boswell had an interesting experience on the bridge. He recalls: 'I picked up a strong jolly young damsel and taking her under the arm I conducted her to Westminster Bridge, and there in amour complete did I engage up in this noble edifice. The whim of doing it there with the Thames rolling below us amused me much'.

Westminster Bridge Photo

On Westminster Bridge are the quaintly phrased bridge by-laws drawn up in 1892 by the old London County Council. There are prohibitions against (in order) not to injure the statues, commit a nuisance, attach ropes, damage the bridge itself, disobey the weight limit and regulate the traffic without proper authority.

Westminster Bridge

The first Westminster Bridge, opened in 1750, was highly praised and thought one of the most complete and elegant structures of the kind in the world. It had fifteen semi circular arches incrementally diminishing from the centre, resting on fourteen piers. On each side was a fine balustrade of stone, with semi-octagonal turrets at intervals to provide shelter for pedestrians. The bridge was built by a Swiss engineer, Charles Labelye, who came up with the innovative idea of using pre built caissons to support the bridge. These were huge boxes constructed onshore then floated into position and driven into the riverbed using an early form of pile driver invented by a Mr Valoue. Water was then pumped out and the caissons were filled with stone. The weight of masonry piers constructed above were designed to fix them in place. 

The present bridge, designed by Thomas Page with Sir Charles Barry acting as consultant, was completed in 1862 and has 7 cast iron arches supported on granite plinths with the centre arch 36.4m wide and 5.4m high. It is the oldest London crossing still in use and remains one of London's busiest foot and road bridges. It's tourists more than commuters who use it most to cross between the London Eye and Houses of Parliament.  Westminster Bridge is painted an attractive green (to match the colour of the benches in the House of Commons). On the iron work of the bridge itself are etched a portcullis, the cross of St George, a thistle, a shield and a rose, symbols of the United Kingdom and Parliament itself. The bridge is quite a neat affair with rather fine details that are overlooked as most pedestrians using it are too busy observing the more iconic buildings nearby. 

Westminster Bridge Photo

Westminster Bridge Photographs copyright Hugh O'Malley

Soma Photos

Reviews of Cross River Traffic here