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Hammersmith Bridge, Richmond upon Thames

Description: Hammersmith Bridge

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 25 June 1983
English Heritage Building ID: 205352

OS Grid Reference: TQ2293878036
OS Grid Coordinates: 522938, 178036
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4879, -0.2307

Location: Hammersmith Bridge, London W6 9XF W6 9DJ

Locality: Richmond upon Thames
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: W6 9DJ

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Listing Text


Suspension bridge, 1884, by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, 1973 strengthening work and restoration after 2000.

DESCRIPTION: Hammersmith Bridge is an elaborate suspension bridge that is 250.5m long and 13.1m wide carrying an 8.2m wide carriageway formed from wrought-iron girders. The bridge has wrought-iron parapets, mild steel chain links and air draught gauges both up and down stream. There are monumental anchorages surviving from the early C19 bridge; these have been substantially rebuilt in the interests of greater strength. The abutments and piers are made of concrete clad in Portland stone and cast-iron. The road decking dates from 1973-6.

The skeletal wrought-iron framework of the towers, the cross-beams and related superstructure is clad in ornamental cast-iron castings, gilded in places. The bridge is very ornate and the decorative iron blocks that support the walkway sit on squat, clustered Doric columns on stone piers in the river. The bridge is painted dark green and gold, the colour scheme that Bazalgette originally intended as seen on the original plans. There are some heraldic designs on the towers: the Royal Arms of the UK, Guildford (the county town of Surrey), Colchester (the county town of Essex) and the crests of the county of Kent and the cities of London and Westminster.

HISTORY: Hammersmith Bridge was begun for the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1884 and was opened by the Prince of Wales on 18 June 1887. It cost £71,500 and was designed by the Board's chief engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-91). In 1973-6 the bridge was strengthened and repaired in extensive works; in June 2000, Hammersmith Bridge was the target of a terrorist bomb attack and, after repairs, was reopened subject to a weight limit.

The bridge rests on pier foundations constructed for an earlier bridge on the site. The original Hammersmith Bridge, built in 1824-27 to designs by William Tierney Clark (1783-1852), was the first iron suspension bridge to span the Thames. Despite having been declared 'highly satisfactory' by Thomas Telford, as early as the 1850s there were structural concerns about Clark's design. Crowds of spectators rushing from side to side to watch the annual University Boat Race caused the deck to sway alarmingly, and by the 1870s, there was further anxiety as Boat Race crowds of up to 12,000 people congregated on the bridge. Despite the dramatic effect of such unusual live loading, the bridge survived until the early 1880s, when the Metropolitan Board of Works chose to replace the bridge to a design by Bazalgette. In 1884, a temporary bridge was erected across the river and used until Bazalgette's structure was completed in 1887.

* The architectural quality of Hammersmith Bridge is remarkable in both form, with its monumental towers, and ornamentation, as seen in the lavish colour scheme and heraldry; the bridge is one of the most distinctive on the Thames and is of more than special interest.
* Replacing one of the first modern suspension bridges in the world of which the foundations still survive, the bridge is of technological special interest for its materials and is also distinguished by its connection with the highly-significant Victorian engineer Joseph Bazalgette.

SOURCES: D Smith, 'The works of William Tierney Clark', Trans. Newcomen Soc, 63 (1991-92), 181-207.
D Smith, 'Hammersmith Bridge', in Civil Engineering Heritage: London and the Thames Valley (Institution of Civil Engineers/MPG Books, 2001), 39-40.
'The new Hammersmith Bridge', The Engineer, 63 (1887), 309, 330-31, 391-94.
C Hailstone, Hammersmith Bridge (Barnes & Mortlake History Society, London, 1987).

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.