Works of the Strand Bridge (taken in the Year 1815).
Drawn by Edw. Blore. Engraved by George Cooke. Jan. 1, 1817
1814: The Strand Bridge (This next print purports to be earlier?)-
The Strand Bridge, New erecting by J. Rennie Esqr.
Drawn by E. Blore. Engraved by George Cooke. March 31, 1814.
1817: Opening of Waterloo Bridge, June 15
on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo
by the Prince Regent accompanied by the Duke
of Wellington and many of the staff officers who had been at the battle.
From The Times -
This noble structure was opened yesterday for the public accommodation,
with as much splendour and dignity as it is possible to give to a ceremony of this description.
The bridge, as our readers know, was originally named "The Strand Bridge;" but the natural and patriotic desire of commemorating, in the most noble public manner, the ever-memorable victory of Waterloo, afforded a fine opportunity for changing its appellation from that of the street merely into which it opens. No mode of perpetuating great deeds by works of art is more consistent with good taste than where such works combine, in a high degree, what is ornamental with what is useful. Monuments of this kind have stronger claims on public respect than the costly construction of pillars, obelisks, and towers. There are many instances of public works having received their names from events honourable to the country in which they were erected. In late times, Buonaparte, who, with all his vices, had a very shrewd insight into human nature, and the external means by which it is worked upon, took advantage of this principle, not simply by his triumphal columns or arches to the honour of Dessaix, of himself, and of his army; but also in giving to two new bridges the names of Jena and Austerlitz, where he had gained two decisive victories. But those bridges, however elegant and convenient, are but trifles in civil architecture and engineering when compared with that which was opened yesterday; and the general appearance of which in its progress attracted particularly the admiration of the Emperor of Russia on his visit to this country.
Opening of Waterloo Bridge on the 18th of June 1817
as seen from the Corner of Cecil Street in the Strand.
Drawn by R.R. Reinagle, A.R.A. Engraved by George Cooke. Augst 1, 1822.
from ILLUSTRATIONS OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS IN LONDON, Britton, Pugin & Leeds, 1832 -
In short, the accuracy of the whole execution seems to have vied with the beauty of the design,
and with the skill of the arrangement, to render the Bridge of Waterloo a monument,
of which the metropolis of the British empire will have abundant reason to be proud
for a long series of successive ages.
In closing these remarks on one of the most stupendous works of modern times, we are induced to quote the observations of an enlightened French Engineer, who visited this country for the purpose of examining our great engineering works, and who received while here the most liberal treatment both from the Government and from scientific men.
This he fully appreciated, and has honourably acknowledged it, in a memoir addressed to the French Institute:—
"If, from the incalculable effect of the revolutions which empires undergo, the nations of a future age should demand one day what was formerly the New Sidon, and what has become of the Tyre of the West, which covered with her vessels every sea? the most of the edifices devoured by a destructive climate will no longer exist to answer the curiosity of man by the voice of monuments; but the Waterloo Bridge, built in the centre of the commercial world, will exist, to tell the most remote generations,
'Here was a rich, industrious, and powerful city.'
The traveller, on beholding this superb monument, will suppose that some great prince wished, by many years of labour, to consecrate for ever the glory of his life by this imposing structure. But if tradition instruct the traveller that six years sufficed for the undertaking and finishing of this work — if he learns that an association of a number of private individuals was rich enough to defray the expense of this colossal monument, worthy of Sesostris and the Caesars — he will admire still more the nation in which similar undertakings could be the fruit of the efforts of a few obscure individuals, lost in the crowd of industrious citizens."
1818: Waterloo Bridge -
Waterloo Bridge, 1818
1819: Elevation of one of the arches by John Rennie -
Elevation of one of the Arches of the Waterloo Bridge. 1819
Drawn by the late John Rennie Esqr., Engineer and Architect.
1820: Waterloo Bridge by Richard Havell -
Waterloo Bridge,Richard Havell, 1820
1821: Section of one of the arches by John Rennie -
Section of one of the Arches of the Waterloo Bridge with the Centring under it.
Drawn by the late John Rennie ... Novr. 1, 1821.
1827: The New Shot Mill near Waterloo Bridge, from Metropolitan Improvements, 1827 -
New Shot Mill near Waterloo Bridge 1827
... a new structure has been lately erected, called the patent shot manufactory. It is near one hundred and fifty feet high, about nineteen feet in diameter, and works half a ton of lead in an hour. It cost near six thousand pounds, but cannot be considered as an object ornamental to the river Thames.
Waterloo Bridge 1827, Metropolitan Improvements
1802: Letters from England By Manuel Alvarez Espriella, attributed to Robert Southey -
The first remarkable object below [Westminster] bridge is a tower constructed for making shot by a new process : the history of its invention is curious. About five-and-twenty years ago a Mr. Watts was engaged in this trade : his wife dreamt that she saw him making shot in a new manner, and related her dream to him : he thought it worth some attention, made the experiment, and obtained a patent for the invention, which he afterwards sold for ten thousand pounds.
1824: from The Steam Boat Companion -
That very lofty pile of brick building on our
left hand, where those columns of sable smoke
are flying before the breezes, is called
THE PATENT SHOT MANUFACTORY.
By the ingenuity and contrivance of the proprietors, the sportsman is accommodated with an article for his amusement, superior in all respects to that manufactured on the former principle. The spherical correctness, the purity, and density of the shot, has been found of high estimation by those who delight in the terraflegiac art.
1828: Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge. W. Westall A.R.A. delt. R.G. Reeve sculpt.
Published 1828 by R.Ackermann, 96 Strand, London. From West.
Antonio Canova (Italian Sculptor) said of Waterloo Bridge - 'the noblest in the world'
1829: Painting of the Opening of Waterloo Bridge, Constable –
Opening of Waterloo Bridge, 1829, Constable
1831: Four Years in Great Britain by Calvin Colton -
... a little before twelve o'clock.
The nearest and most direct road to my lodgings was across Waterloo Bridge ...
... soon found myself past the turnstile at the south end of the bridge.
Even in the daytime, as is well known to Londoners, this bridge is little frequented; in the evening less;
at the still and solemn hour of midnight, and near the shortest days of winter, scarcely at all.
The stars were concealed by smoke and clouds ; the lamps of that vast metropolis, beaming faintly up towards heaven, made the darkness visible ; on the left, all along the shore towards Whitehall, the full glare of an occasional lamp down upon the glassy bosom of the Thames, threw up its sheet of scattered rays ; the arched and regular lines of light across Westminster Bridge presented a beautiful vision ; and down the river the lamps of Blackfriars' and Southwark bridges rivalled each other to give enchantment to the scene, in the midst of the twinklings which darted from the confused mêlé of lights from either shore.
But the prettiest of all was the scene directly before me, created by the perspective of the two ranges of lamps on the sides of Waterloo Bridge, drawing nearer together as the vista extended and approached the Strand.
This bridge is a dead level. I could see distinctly from one gate to the other, and not a human being was upon it. I passed the turnstile on the right, after giving the keeper his penny, and hearing the tick of the clockwork, which forces him to be honest.
As was natural, I kept the side to which I was thus introduced, and walked on at peace with myself, and I hope with Heaven, admiring the stillness with which I was immediately surrounded at that dead hour of night, in the midst of such a world of human beings.
The distant rumbling of carriages, however, along the pavements of the streets, and that peculiar hum which accompanies it, when heard at a little distance, and occasioned by the street-talk and night-rioting of so great a city, admonished me that the world were not all asleep.
But the twinkling lamps, everywhere to be seen, like the stars in an open sky, and the regular approaching lines immediately before me, were most attractive of all.
A poetic night time equivalent of Dorothy Wordsworth's diary entry on Westminster Bridge ...
The only problem being that he then went on to describe a possible attempted robbery - and all that poetic feeling was just setting up his readers for the sudden attack -
so be it - the world is probably like that - only I'm not going to add to it - you'll have to find how the story ends for yourself -
1835: The Parterre -
The name of the Waterloo bridge, as
well as its aspect, is sufficiently indicative
of its very recent date. Magnificent and
unique as it is, as a specimen of civil
architecture, yet to the eye, its flat, aqueduct-
looking line is less attractive than
either the stately elevation of the Westminster,
or the graceful sweep of Blackfriars.
Its name, too, is a sort of solecism, and, we cannot help thinking, an affectation, not quite worthy of the solid and lasting dignity of that metropolis which acquired in the erection of this structure one more noble feature in addition to the many which it had already accumulated.
The names of all the other great bridges of the capital, have grown out of their respective localities ; so that their permanence is not liable to be affected either by political changes or by changes of opinion. Those names are intimately associated with the steady rise, the splendid progress, and magnificent prospects of the capital itself : their continuance is not dependent on the judgment which future generations, or even the present, may form as to the degree of public benefit that may have resulted from a particular political or military achievement.
But even had British history had time to pass its final verdict upon the transactions in question, the taste would still have been very questionable which suggested the introducing of a name inseparably associated with all the darkest horrors of wholesale butchery, among those of the Westminster bridge, &c.— which hold their steady, quiet place in the mind, linked with ideas of cheerful business, of peaceful pomp, and tranquil pleasure.
And once more let me repeat, that, of all cities that are or have been, our own great capital may most fairly claim the right, before all other localities upon earth, to furnish names for her own magnificent bridges.
1840: The Thames and its Tributaries, Charles Mackay -
... Waterloo Bridge, the finest of the many fine structures that span the bosom of the Thames within metropolitan limits.
Around its arches clings half the romance of modern London. It is the English "Bridge of Sighs", the "Pons Asinorum", the "Lover's Leap", the "Arch of Suicide", and well deserves all these appellations. Many a sad and too true tale might be told, the beginning and end of which would be "Waterloo Bridge". It is a favourite spot for love assignations; and a still more favourite spot for those who long to cast off the load of existence, and cannot wait, through sorrow, until the Almighty Giver takes away his gift. Its comparative loneliness renders it convenient for both purposes. The penny toll keeps off the inquisitive and unmannerly crowd; and the foolish can love or the mad can die with less observation from the passers than they could find anywhere else so close to the heart of London. To many a poor girl the assignation over one arch of Waterloo Bridge is but the prelude to the fatal leap from another. Here they begin, and here they end, after a long course of intermediate crime and sorrow, the unhappy story of their loves. Here, also, wary and practised courtezans lie in wait for the Asini, so abundant in London, and who justify its appellation of the Pons Asinorum. Here fools become entrapped, and wise men too sometimes, the one losing their money, and the other their money and self-respect.
But, with all its vice, Waterloo Bridge is pre-eminently the "Bridge of Sorrow". There is less of the ludicrous to be seen from its smooth highway than from almost any other in the metropolis. The people of London continually hear of unhappy men and women who throw themselves from its arches, and as often of the finding of bodies in the water, which may have lain there for weeks, no one knowing how or when they came there, — no one being able to distinguish their lineaments. But, often as these things are heard of, few are aware of the real number of victims that choose this spot to close an unhappy career, — few know that, taking one year with another, the average number of suicides committed from this place is about thirty.
Notwithstanding these gloomy associations, Waterloo Bridge is a pleasant spot. Any one who wishes to enjoy a panoramic view unequalled of its kind in Europe, has only to proceed thither, just at the first faint peep of dawn, and he will be gratified. A more lovely prospect of a city it is impossible to imagine than that which will burst upon him as he draws near to the middle arch. Scores of tall spires, unseen during the day, are distinctly seen at that hour, each of which seems to mount upwards to double its usual height, standing out in bold relief against the clear blue sky. Even the windows of distant houses, no longer, as in the noon-tide view, blended together in one undistinguishable mass, seem larger and nearer, and more clearly defined; every chimney-pot stands alone, tracing against the smokeless sky a perfect outline. Eastward, the view embraces the whole of ancient London, from "the towers of Julius" to its junction with Westminster at Temple Bar. Directly opposite stands Somerset House, by far the most prominent, and, the most elegant building, St. Paul's excepted, in all the panorama; while to the west rise the hoary towers of Westminster Abbey, with, far in the distance, glimpses of the hills of Surrey crowned with verdure. The Thames, which flows in a crescent-shaped course, adds that peculiar charm which water always affords to a landscape.
If the visitor has time, he will do well to linger for a few hours on the spot till all the fires are lighted, and the haze of noon approaches. He will gradually see many objects disappear from the view. First of all, the hills of Surrey will be undistinguishable in the distance; steeples far away in the north and east of London will vanish as if by magic ; houses half a mile off, in which you might at first have been able to count the panes of glass in the windows, will agglomerate into shapeless masses of brick. After a time, the manufactories and gas-works, belching out volumes of smoke, will darken all the atmosphere; steam-boats plying continually to and fro will add their quota to the general impurity of the air; while all these mingling together will form that dense cloud which habitually hangs over London, and excludes its inhabitants from the fair share of sunshine to which all men are entitled.
1841: Waterloo Bridge from Upstream with a race in progress (and a royal barge) -
Waterloo Bridge from the West with a Boat Race.
Published by Henry Brooks, 319, Regent Street, Portland Place, and 87, New Bond Street, June 25th 1841.
Printed by C. Hullmandel.Hungerford Market, Buckingham
Watergate and Somerset House can be distinguished on the opposite shore; the royal barge rows into the picture on the right.
Bridge finances -
This was the grandest and most costly of the enterprises. The bridge cost £1,054,000.
£476,300 was raised by the issue of shares, £500,000 by the issue of annuities and £49,652 by the issue of bonds. In 1854 it was reported that:
the shareholders of Waterloo Bridge are hopelessly insolvent, and no circumstances can affect this bridge by which they can ever receive any benefit; the annuitants having a prior claim to their dividends, and therefore any increase of the toll, which is going on gradually, goes to the annuitants.
The bondholders got paid, the annuitants got underpaid — by 1876 the arrears were about £3,600,000 — and in most years the shareholders got nothing.
In 1865, the Chief Clerk and Surveyor, asked about the unprofitability of the bridge, revealed the naivety of the promoters’ expectations:
Q: I suppose you expected the traffic to pay the promoters?
A: No doubt.
Q: You showed that by the traffic?
A: We showed that by the traffic of the existing bridges. We took Blackfriars and Westminster.
Q: How is it that it has not paid according to your sanguine expectations?
A: Well, because it has not been used.
Q: Why has it not been used?
A: Because it was a toll bridge.
Tolls in the last year before purchase were £21,407.
1856: The removal of the old London bridge changed the tidal currents around the Waterloo Bridge. A survey showed that the increased currents had scoured away a considerable amount of sediment -
1856: The changes to the river above the 1823 London Bridge
1878: Waterloo Bridge and the Shot Tower, Henry Taunt -
Waterloo Bridge and the Shot Tower, Henry Taunt, 1878
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT2645
1878: Waterloo Bridge, Henry Taunt -
The Paddle Steamer Citizen under Waterloo Bridge, Henry Taunt, 1878
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT2396
1880: Popular Science -
THE JABLOCHKOFF ELECTRIC LIGHT IN LONDON
The London Metropolitan Board of Works has recently renewed a contract for one year for lighting the Victoria Embankment and Waterloo Bridge with the Jablochkoff electric light.
The Jablochkoff system has been in successful operation on the Thames Embankment since the 13th of December, 1878, when twenty lights were started between Westminster and Waterloo Bridges. Twenty lights, extending the work to Blackfriars Bridge, were added in May, 1879, and ten more were put on Waterloo Bridge in October last; ten lights have also been placed in the Victoria Railway Station.
All of the lights on the Embankment have been kept in operation for six hours each night since they were first started - a fact that is worthy of consideration when it is borne in mind that the machinery was originally arranged for twenty lights only, with no thought that the system was to be extended, and that the changes rendered necessary by each of the two extensions have had to be made without interfering with the daily efficiency of the apparatus.
The price paid by the Board of Works was, at first, 6d per light per hour; it was reduced to 5d in the first, and 3d on the second extension, and has again been reduced on the renewal of the contract to 2½d per light per hour.
The Jablochkoff system of electric lighting is now in use under almost every possible condition and in every variety of establishment ...
Waterloo Bridge, 1902, Francis Frith
1902: Waterloo Bridge, Monet –
Waterloo Bridge 1902, Monet
1904: Waterloo Bridge, Monet -
Waterloo Bridge 1904, Monet
1923: a settlement in the pier on the
Lambeth side of the central arch and subsidences in the parapet and carriageway gave warning
that the structure was in a dangerous condition. Remedial measures were taken but proved unsuccessful
1924. 11th May: Waterloo bridge was closed to traffic.
For ten years controversy raged as to the fate of the
old bridge. There were three serious alternatives:
(1) that the old bridge should be strengthened and repaired and a modern bridge built at Charing Cross;
(2) that the bridge should be rebuilt to the old design but made wider to take a greater volume of traffic;
(3) that a modern bridge should be built in place of the old.
1934: the London County Council decided to go ahead with the erection of a modern bridge, but it was not until 1936 that Parliament at last gave the Council authority to borrow money for the purpose.
Waterloo Bridge being demolished, 1935?
1936? Waterloo Bridge demolished
A temporary bridge was constructed. (1935? - 1951?)
I think this that temporary structure, seen probably in about 1950? In the photo the building in the foreground is the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge. On the right is the old County Hall and then the temporary Bridge more or less on the site of the London Eye. The next bridge is Hungerford, Charing Cross, Railway Bridge, and then, the furthest bridge, is the new Waterloo Bridge.
Temporary Bridge on London Eye site, 1950?
1940: The present Waterloo Bridge was constructed during World War 2,
chiefly by women and was nicknamed ‘the ladies bridge’.
1,200 feet long, 80 feet wide. Five spans of reinforced concrete clad in Portland stone cross the river between the modernist concrete structures of the South Bank Centre and the classical stone structure of Somerset House on the north bank. Externally, the spans appear as elegantly flat arches, but the underlying structure consists of steel box-girders.
Architect: Giles Gilbert Scott. Engineer: Rendell, Palmer and Triton. Contractor: Sir William Arrol & Co.
1942: The new bridge was partially opened to traffic
1945, December: Waterloo Bridge formally opened.
1951: Waterloo Bridge -
Plate from Monk's Calendar for 1951. Waterloo Bridge.
Drawn and etched by Leonard Squirrell, R.W.S., R.E. London,
Published by Walker's Galleries Ltd., 118 New Bond Street, W.1.
The London Calendar. Originated by W. Monk, 1903.
1500BC: The two obelisks known as Cleopatra's Needles were erected by Pharaoh Thothmes III.
15BC: The two obelisks were moved to stand on the beach at Alexandra.
This photo shows one of them -
This obelisk, the twin of the London Cleopatra's Needle, standing on the beach at Alexandra
1819: One obelisk was presented to Britain by Mehemet Ali.
1877: A floating wooden case was made for it, but it was damaged by a rock as it rolled into the sea -
Cleopatra's Needle in her wooden case at Alexandra
The wooden case was then converted into a "ship" which was towed by a tug.
Cleopatra's Needle being towed by a tug.
it was towed across the Mediterranean, past Gibraltar - but was abandoned in a storm in the Bay of Biscay with the loss of six lives.
Cleopatra's Needle abandoned at sea
Fortunately it was rescued by a steamer and eventually brought up the Thames.
Cleopatra's Needle at Westminster
The lifting of it into position was quite an exercise. Here is how they did it. First it was raised horizontally -
And then pivoted into the vertical -
The Illustrated London News [from which the above prints were taken] -
The Egyptian obelisk from Alexandria, which was lately to be seen hoisted aloft in the horizontal position at the river-stairs of the Victoria Thames Embankment opposite Adelphi Terrace, was on Thursday week placed in its due perpendicular attitude, directly over the pedestal, which will now be completed by adding the upper course of masonry.
The mechanical arrangements for swinging this huge monolith, which measures 68ft 3in in length, 5ft 10in by 4ft 10in in breadth at one end and 7ft 10in by 7ft 8in at the other, weighing 193 tons [have been described in our journal]. It had been fitted with an iron jacket round the middle, and with a wrought-iron girder by way of a stirrup, to support the lower end of the stone, when it was gradually let down, and so to prevent its slipping out of the iron jacket by which its centre was held suspended.
The obelisk had been lifted to the height of 50ft above the pedestal, through the elevation by hydraulic jacks, of a pair of iron girders working upwards in grooves left in the main angles of the scaffolding. Upon these girders rested a pair of peculiarly formed trunnions projecting from the iron jacket, and supported the obelisk in a horizontal position during the time it was being raised.
The monolith having attained the necessary altitude, it was only necessary to swing it on the trunnions, or, in other words, to let down the butt or thick end, so as to get the stone into a vertical position, but still held up, with its bottom a few inches above the top of the pedestal. The total weight, including the iron girders was 216 tons. The operation of "swinging" was completed in about three quarters of an hour, and by lowering the girders the obelisk was allowed to descend to the pedestal and the "Union Jack" and Turkish ensign were run up in token of the success of the work.
The obelisk was still kept a little held up, in order that its exact perpendicularity to the surface of the pedestal might be tested with mathematical precision. It had a partial support from the wooden packing laid underneath. On Friday morning this was removed, the weight having been first eased by the action of hydraulic jacks. Thye obelisk was then let down the remaining four inches, till it finally rested on its pedestal. The iron jacket and strap will now be stripped off and the scaffolding removed. The operation of Thursday week took place between three and four o'clock in the afternoon.
For the accommodation of those who have taken a special interest in the progress of the work, Professor Erasmus Wilson and Mr John Dixon had chartered a steamer, which was moored abreast of the works. Sir J W Bazalgette, C.B., chief engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works, and several gentlemen of the engineering profession were present; also Major-General Sir James Alexander, C.B., Admiral S E Omanney, C.B., Sir Charles Read, Professor Owen, Alderman Sir C Whetham, Sir G Elliott, M.P., and Mr Grantham, M.P.
It is stated that Mr John Dixon C.E., has expended £5,000 over and above the £10,000 liberally bestowed by Mr Erasmus Wilson, for the cost of bringing Cleopatra's Needle from Egypt, with its detention by the accident in the Bay of Biscay, and finally erecting the obelisk in London.
The Hon. C Vivian, Consul-General in Egypt, was present on the Friday. Telegrams were received by Mr Dixon from her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral, and from the Khedive of Egypt, to congratulate him and Mr Erasmus Wilson upon the completion of their undertaking.
Our modern equivalent of that saga might be the London Eye?
1881: The remaining obelisk was given to America and erected in Central Park, New York
1885: Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames -
Cleopatra's Needle stands on the Victoria Embankment ... This famous monolith of red granite,
from Alexandria, originally stood at Heliopolis, and was presented to this country by
Mehemet Ali in 1819.
No ministry was bold enough to face the difficulty and expense of transporting it across the Bay of Biscay, and for many years it lay half-buried by sand at Alexandria, at the foot of its still erect sister, which, according to some people, is the real original Cleopatra's Needle. In the Alexandrian sand the English obelisk would probably have remained until the end of time (unless, indeed, the British tourist had carried it away piecemeal in the form of relics) but for the public spirit of the late Sir (then Mr) Erasmus Wilson and Mr John Dixon, the well-known civil engineer. Mr Wilson put down £10,000 for the expenses of transport, and Mr Dixon undertook to deliver the monument in the Thames for that sum on the principle of "no cure, no pay" - no obelisk, no £10,000.
A cylinder boat was designed, in which the needle was encased, and justified Mr Dixon's expectations by making good weather of it until it became unmanageable and untenantable in a heavy gale in the Bay of Biscay. Abandoned by the steamer which had it in tow, after the sacrifice of six lives in a last gallant attempt to save the Cleopatra, few people doubted that the needle would find its last resting-place at the bottom of the sea. Fortunately a passing steamer succeeded in securing it, and towed it into Ferrol, whence it was safely transferred to its present site.
Much ingenuity was shown in the machinery designed for its erection, the difficulties of which will readily be understood when it is stated that the obelisk is over 68 feet in height, and weighs 180 tons.
Site of Festival of Britain lighthouse, 1951, right bank
Lighthouse E-clips copyright Mike Millichamp -
Festival of Britain Lighthouse, 1951
The Festival of Britain in 1951 celebrated 100 years of technology since the
Great Exhibition of 1851.
At the time the organisers wondered what they should do with the old Shot Tower which was built on the south bank of the River Thames in 1826 some 90 yards south of Waterloo Bridge. It had not been used for many years but remained one of London's tallest landmarks. A shot tower is where shot used to be made for guns. Hot molten lead was dropped from the melting chamber at the top of the tower and by the time it had fallen 120 feet within the tower and reached the water at the bottom it had hardened and formed into perfect balls of shot.
Most of the buildings in that area of London were bombed in the blitz of 1940 and those that survived were pulled down as part of the Festival of Britain preparations in order to provide a better approach to the new Waterloo Bridge, and the Royal Festival Hall, the National Film Theatre and the South Bank Promenade and Restaurant all to be built as part of the celebrations. Many people suggested that the tower should be pulled down with the other buildings that were being cleared for the Royal Festival Hall, but others felt it was a pity to pull down this old tower of great architectural interest, so it was decided that it would make a fine lighthouse.
An optic, made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham (who also made the glass for the original Crystal Palace in 1851), was placed on the top in a specially made lighthouse lantern and throughout that Festival year it sent out a double flashing beam visible for 45 miles across London on a clear day. The lamp was 3,000 watts with the power of 3 million candles and had an automatic device to ensure that a second lamp could swing into position should the first fail.
There was a radio beacon above the lantern room designed to direct radio signals to the moon and beyond into outer space. However, due to national defence requirements, it was changed to receive and record signals from the stars only. Presumably the government of the time did not wish to offend any extra terrestrial aliens living on the moon - a case of being considerate to our neighbours when throwing a party.
The lighthouse stood only yards from the new Royal Festival Hall and was a brick built circular tower, about seven stories high, tapering to the top. As a shot tower and not a chimney it already had an entrance door, a staircase inside and windows at each level and a gallery at the very top. Visitors were able to see inside the lighthouse. The entrance brought them onto a circular gallery and above them the original spiral staircase wound upwards to the lantern room at the top of the tower and below them in what we would call the basement was the water tank chamber.
The lighthouse operated for twelve months as such and after the celebrations the optic used was sold and bought for Brigand Hill, Manzanilla lighthouse in Trinidad and Tobago, and the tower eventually demolished.
1926: Charing Cross branch.
1862: From Hungerford Pier to Vauxhall Bridge by steamer -
... take the boat at Hungerford Stairs, ...
Carefully avoiding the [Waterloo Bridge] toll-gate, we proceed along a narrow passage by the side, formed for the benefit of steam-boat passengers.
The line of placards beside the bridge-house celebrates the merits of "DOWN'S HATS", and "COOPER'S MAGIC PORTRAITS", or teach us how Gordon Cumming (in Scotch attire) saves his fellow-creatures from the jaws of roaring lions by means of a flaming firebrand.
We hurry along the bridge, with its pagoda-like piers, which serve to support the iron chains suspending the platform, and turn down a flight of winding steps, bearing a considerable resemblance to the entrance of a vault or cellar.
On the covered coal barges, that are dignified by the name of the floating pier, are officials in uniform, with bands round their hats, bearing mysterious inscriptions, such as L. and W. S. B. C., the meaning of which is in vain guessed at by persons who have only enough time to enable them to get off by the next boat, and who have had no previous acquaintance with the London and Westminster Steam Boat Company.
The words "PAY HERE" are inscribed over little wooden houses, that remind one of the retreats generally found at the end of suburban gardens; and there arc men within to receive the money and dispense the "checks," who have so theatrical an air, that they appear like money-takers who have been removed in their boxes to Hungerford Stairs from some temple of the legitimate drama that has recently become insolvent.
We take our ticket amid cries of "Now then, mum, this way for Creemorne!" "Oo's for Ungerford ?" "Any one for Lambeth or Chelsea?" and have just time to set foot on the boat before it shoots through the bridge, leaving behind the usual proportion of persons who have just taken their tickets in time to miss it.
Barges, black with coal, are moored in the roads in long parallel lines beside the bridge on one side the river, and on the other there are timber-yards at the water's edge, crowded with yellow stacks of deal.
On the right bank, as we go, are seen the shabby-looking lawns at the back of Privy Gardens and Richmond Terrace, which run down to the river, and which might be let out at exorbitant rents if the dignity of the proprietors would only allow them to convert their strips of sooty grass into "eligible" coal wharves.
Westminster Bridge is latticed over with pile-work; the red signal-boards above the arches point out the few of which the passage is not closed.
The parapets are removed, and replaced by a dingy hoarding, above which the tops of carts, and occasionally the driver of a Hansom cab may be seen passing along.
After a slight squeak, and a corresponding jerk, and amid the cries from a distracted boy of "Ease her!" "Stop her!" "Back her !" as if the poor boat were suffering some sudden pain, the steamer is brought to a temporary halt at Westminster pier.
Then, as the boat dashes with a loud noise through one of the least unsound of the arches of the bridge, we come in front of the New Houses of Parliament, with their architecture and decorations of Gothic biscuit-ware.
Here are the tall clock-tower, with its huge empty sockets for the reception of the clocks and its scaffolding of bird-cage work at the top, and the lofty massive square tower, like that of Cologne Cathedral, surmounted with its cranes.
Behind is the white-looking Abbey, with its long, straight, black roof, and its pinnacled towers; and a little farther on, behind the grimy coal wharves, is seen a bit of St. John's Church, with its four stone turrets standing up in the air, and justifying the popular comparison which likens it to an inverted table.
On the Lambeth side we note the many boat-builders' yards, and then "Bishop's Walk," as the embanked esplanade, with its shady plantation, adjoining the Archbishop's palace, is called.
The palace itself derives more picturesqueness than harmony from the differences existing in the style and colour of its architecture, the towers at the one end being grey and worm-eaten, the centre reminding us somewhat of the Lincolns' Inn dining-hall, while the motley character of the edifice is rendered more thorough by the square, massive, and dark ruby-coloured old bricken tower, which forms the eastern extremity.
The yellow-gray stone turret of Lambeth church, close beside the Archbishop's palace, warns us that we are approaching the stenches which have made Lambeth more celebrated than the very dirtiest of German towns.
During six days in the week the effluvium from the bone-crushing establishments is truly nauseating; but on Fridays, when the operation of glazing is performed at the potteries, the united exhalation from the south bank produces suffocation, in addition to sickness - the combined odours resembling what might be expected to arise from the putrefaction of an entire Isle of Dogs.
The banks at the side of the river here are lined with distilleries, gas works, and all sorts of factories requiring chimneys of preternatural dimensions.
Potteries, with kilns showing just above the roofs, are succeeded by whiting-racks, with the white lumps shining through the long, pitchy, black bars; and huge tubs of gasometers lie at the feet of the lofty gas-works.
Everything is, in fact, on a gigantic scale, even to the newly-whitewashed factory inscribed "Ford's Waterproofing Company," which, with a rude attempt at inverted commas, is declared to be "limited."
On the opposite shore we see Chadwick's paving-yard, which is represented in the river by several lines of barges, heavily laden with macadamized granite; the banks being covered with paving stones, which are heaped one upon the other like loaves of bread.
Ahead is Vauxhall bridge, with its open iron work at the sides of the arches.
1869: Hungerford Pier, The Illustrated London News, Vol. LIV, Saturday, March 27 -
The creation of new piers — not by an express patent from the Crown, but with the consent,
probably, of the Thames Conservancy, or rulers of the watery way alongside the Thames Embankment —
seems to come within the prerogatives of the Metropolitan Board of Works.
The passenger traffic of those convenient river-omnibuses, the Iron, Citizen, Express,
and other quick little steam-boats, which ply all day from London Bridge to Lambeth and Chelsea,
will henceforth be much better accommodated with places for embarking and landing than it has
been heretofore; and we may expect to see, before long, a superior class of vessels
introduced which may again render travelling by water through London as fashionable
as it used to be in the days of King Charles, or in the days of Queen Bess,
when the most elegant barges conveyed loads of aristocracy from the Tower to the Strand
Our Illustration shows one of the new landing-stages or piers erected along the Embankment; being the one immediately below the Charing-cross railway-bridge, with the Adelphi-terrace in the background. This is nearly ready for opening; but there is another, precisely similar, at Waterloo Bridge, which has been opened for traffic. The floating wooden stage at each of these piers is approached from the Embankment above, with a variable declivity, by means of a double iron gangway, the upper end of which swings upon hinges, while the lower end, suspended in chains and governed by the movements of the landing-stage with the rising and falling tide, gives access to the level of the stage and of the steam-boats' deck. The deep recesses of the masonry, in which these shifting gangways are suspended, like the flight of steps in a staircase, are indicated in our Engraving by the double rows of stone balustrades, on the top of the embankment, to the right and to the left hand of the steam-boat pier.
On the spacious floor of the landing-stage is erected a neat little wooden house, of hexagonal shape, for the sale of tickets; and there are several comfordable waiting-rooms, with seats around the walls, to shelter the people in bad weather, expecting the arrival of the boats. The new Temple Pier, with its stately arch and sculptured ornaments, is not yet available for public use, and the old structure of timber scaffolding remains at Hungerford likewise.
Hungerford Pier, 1869