Adnax Publications

< Engraved views of London >

Bridges II


Blackfriars Bridge : 1810 : from the south west looking north east

William James Bennett after G.F.Robson 1810: Blackfriars Bridge

The viewpoint is the south bank of the Thames, looking north east.

'This bridge is a most elegant structure, and was built after a design of Mr. Robert Mylne. The situation of the ground on the two shores obliged the architect to employ elliptical arches; and they have a very fine effect. There are nine arches, of which the centre is a hundred feet wide. The whole length is 995 feet. The breadth of the carriage-way is twenty-eight feet, and that of the two foot-ways several feet each. Here each pier is a recess, over the beautiful Ionic pillars which support them. The building of this bridge was begun in 1760, and was finished in 1768, at the expense of 152,840l., to be discharged by a toll on the passengers. It is situated almost at an equal distance between those of Westminster and London, commanding a view of the Thames from the latter to Whitehall, and discovering the majesty of St Paul's in a very striking manner.'
Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand; by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819

But the piers were of bad Portland Stone, and were never satisfactory, and costs of repairs eventually proved too much. It was pulled down in 1864 and replaced by 1869 with the present structure.

The current view from Blackfriars Bridge is completely marred by a new railway bridge and the remains of an old one.

View from Blackfriars Bridge


Southwark Bridge : 1819 : from the south east looking north west

Southwark Bridge, 1819. Engraved by Thomas Sutherland after J.Gendall.

The viewpoint is on the south bank of the Thames looking north west. London Bridge is close behind.

John Rennie (1794-1874) designed and built this three-arch cast-iron toll bridge. It was situated between Blackfriars and London bridges and had a central span of 72 metres. It was largest bridge ever made of cast-iron. It was replaced in 1921. The dome of St Pauls Cathedral can be seen in the distance.

The idea that this structure was an improvement was only apparent to those who needed to use it to get to work. It is clear that the effort to destroy London's visual appeal has begun in earnest.

Rennie was also responsible for completing Waterloo Bridge to a design by George Dodd (begun 1811, completed 1817, demolished 1936 and replaced by the present structure in 1942), and the design for a new London Bridge (begun 1824 by Rennie's sons, completed 1831, dismantled 1968-72, because it was found to be sinking after widening in 1902-4, and shipped to Arizona where it was reconstructed, replaced by the present structure in 1973).

A recent view from Southwark Bridge, looking towards St Pauls Cathedral.

View from Southward Bridge


Richmond Bridge : 1824 : from the east looking west

Richmond Bridge, engraved by William Westall, 1824.

The viewpoint is from the Richmond side of the river looking west towards Twickenham.

Built in 1774-77 to a design by by James Paine (c1716-1789), this is the oldest Thames bridge still in use. Finance for it was raised by the issue of Tontine shares. Holders of the shares received a proportion of the income from the tolls. When a holder died, his share was split between the remaining share-holders, until the last shareholder died and the tolls were ended. There were two Tontines: unfortunately for the people of Richmond, the nominee of the first died in 1859, aged 86, the survivor in 1865 aged 91. The bridge was widened between 1937-39, with great care taken to retain the original appearance. 

The London Magazine described the bridge in 1779 as 'a simple yet elegant structure, and from its happy situation... one of the most beautiful ornaments of the river and the country adjacent. It is built of Portland stone from the design of Mr Payne of London, a celebrated architect....'


go to index of engraved views

copyright © Adnax Publications, all rights reserved