A Discriminating review of the history and science of Bridges would form a valuable and interesting offering to the archives of literature.
It would show the simple and rude contrivances that men, in the early ages of civilisation, adopted to cross over chasms and torrents, - the origin and progressive improvement in the formation of arches, - the application of mathematical theorems to practical and important purposes, - and the profound skill that at length has been attained in carrying vast stone and iron causeways, or roads, either supported or suspended, over deep and wide rivers, or into the sea.
A stately, scientific, and finely constructed edifice of this class, whilst it is one of the most difficult, is justly esteemed one of the most noble specimens of human art.
At the same time that it affords easy and free communication for all sorts of carriages, horses, and persons, from one side of a river to the other, - however rapid, deep, and irregular the stream may be, - it also allows the waters to ebb and flow without interruption, and to carry on their surface the various vessels of pleasure and merchandise destined to navigate the stream.
It is, however, incompatible with the nature of the present work to enter fully into a history of bridges,
or to attempt an essay on the art and science of designing and constructing these important edifices.
The reader that requires such information will derive both amusement and instruction in consulting the works of the following authors.
The earliest is Alberti (1481), whose precepts were adopted and promulgated by Palladio, Serlio, and Scamozzi.
These writers were again commented on and their best rules adopted, by Blondel (1665), Goldman, and Bankhurst; whilst Hawkesmoor availed himself of their labours, in his History, &c.
of London Bridge (1736).
Mons. Gautier (1714), has produced a respectable volume on ancient and modern bridges: and Belidor, in the fourth volume of his 'Architecture Hydrau lique,' and Parent, in his 'Essais et Recherches Mathematiques,' have treated largely on the subject.
De la Hire, in 'Traite de Mechanique' (1702), and Bossut, in 'Memoires de l'Academie,' have revised and reviewed the theories and opinions of their countrymen.
In 1760, Mr. Riou published 'Short Principles for the Architecture of Stone Bridges;' and in l77l, Mons. Reyemortes printed an account of a bridge constructed from his own designs over the river D'Allier, at Moulins.
The road of this bridge was level, and carried by thirteen arches, of sixty-four feet span each.
Mr. Semple has some judicious remarks and information in his Treatise on Building in Water,' (1776).
These, with the writings of Bergier, Mutter, Labelye, Atwood, Emerson, Hutton, Smeaton, Ware, and Gwilt, also in Rees's 'Cyclopaedia;' and the valuable essays by Telford, in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' and of the same profound engineer, with Nimmo, in Brewster's 'Encyclopaedia,' - may be said to contain a fund of useful information, both theoretical and practical, on this important subject.
The most complete works, however, we have on bridges are the following: - 'Description des Projets et de la Construction des Fonts de Neuilli, de Mantes, d'Orleans, de Louis XVI. &c.', by Perronet, 1788, with a large folio volume of Maps, Plans, Sections, &c.
'Recueil de divers Memoires extraits de la Bibliotheque Imperiale des Fonts et Chaussees, a l'usage de M. M. les Ingenieurs,' par P. Le Sage, 2 torn. 4to., Plates, 1810.
'Traite de la Construction des Fonts, et Memoires sur les Canaux de Navigation, publie par M. Navier Gauthey &c. 3 torn. 4to. 1809-22.
Without entering into the controversial and obscure questions respecting the early bridges of the Chinese, the Indians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks,
or even those of the ancient Romans, it may not be irrelevant to observe, that the latter people, in their progress of amelioration and refinement,
committed the management of public bridges to a class of priests called Pontifices,
who were superseded by the Censors and Curators of the roads; and these again by the Emperors themselves, who undertook to control and direct
these great works.
The city of Rome, alone, was adorned by eight large and handsome buildings of this class, raised across the Tiber.
Some of them are said to have been splendid in their architectural features; whilst the bridges and aqueducts of the Romans, in other parts of the empire, were of great extent, of considerable altitude, and some of them were composed of either two or three series of arches, rising one above the other.
That the Romans constructed bridges in this country can scarcely be doubted, although we have no genuine specimen remaining to prove the fact.
A few years ago, the abutment piers of a very ancient bridge were discovered near Stony Stratford, which the late Mr. Rennie told the writer he believed were of Roman construction.
As the arts, the sciences, and literature, (such as then known), were confined to the monastic clergy, from the fifth to the fifteenth century, we find that bridge-building was also under their guidance.
An order of hospitallers was founded by St. Benezet, towards the close of the twelfth century, for this express purpose: - they were called 'Pontifices' or bridge-builders, and were enjoined to assist travellers, to regulate ferries, to have houses on the banks of rivers, and to repair or erect bridges on the popular roads.
The most remarkable monastic bridge remaining in England is that of Croyland, in Lincolnshire, which is commonly, but erroneously, said to have been erected in 860; we shall, however, be nearer the time of its construction, if we say the middle of the twelfth century.
It is formed by three obtusely pointed arches, whose bases stand in the circumference of a circle at nearly equal distances from each other.
These support three roads, which unite at the top.
The ascent each way is very steep, and formed by steps, with stones set edgewise.
Though very rude in construction, and very little attended to, its arches are still very perfect and secure.
Of the metropolitan bridges we shall detail some historical and descriptive accounts, taking them rather in geographical than chronological order;
commencing with those of London, and finishing at Vauxhall.
In a general view of the subject, we cannot help expressing astonishment, that the first, or old London Bridge, has held together for so many centuries, considering its peculiar situation, the badness of its design, and still worse execution.
We shall also be surprised in reflecting on the great length of time that elapsed before a second bridge was erected in this populous city, as well as in examining the design and construction of that also; and, finally, in comparing and contrasting these, and that of Blackfriars, with those of Waterloo and the New London.
Both the Westminster and Blackfriars have been honoured with the praises of critics and of some professional men; but the meridian of their fame and glory is passed away, and we now seek in vain to discover either merit or beauty in the design, construction, or materials, of either of these edifices.
The designs of the different bridges, as respects the curvature of arches, proportions of piers, and exterior features, are clearly exemplified by the series of prints annexed.
The history of this edifice, its first erection, reconstruction, additions, alterations, and eventful changes,
have been so minutely and admirably recorded in a volume, entitled
'Chronicles of London Bridge,' that it will not be expedient to enter into detail in this place.
Maitland asserts that a wooden bridge was erected between the years 993 and 1016, at the public cost, to prevent the incursions of the Danes up the river.
Stow, however, assigns its construction to the monks of St. Mary's Monastery.
The Danes, under King Knute, or Canute, cut a deep ditch from Deptford, through Southwark, to Kennington and Vauxhall, for the purpose of escaping London Bridge.
Whatever was the origin of the first wooden bridge, we have the testimony of different chroniclers, that it was entirely swept away by a dreadful whirlwind, on the 16th of November, 1091, when upwards of 600 houses, and several churches, were either wholly or nearly destroyed.
In 1097, William Rufus imposed a heavy tax on the people to build a new bridge, which did not last long; for in 1176 a Stone one was commenced by Peter, curate of Cole-church, and its expenses were defrayed by various contributions, in addition to the funds especially provided.
It was thirty-three years in progress, was 926 feet in length, 20 in width, and rose 40 feet at the centre above the surface of the water.
Hawkesmoor says, that the river was 900 feet across; that the water-way was only 190 feet of this width below the starlings, and 450 above, at the times of high tides.
The water-way between the piers above the starlings (agreeably to measurement made by Mr. Knight, in the year 1824, previous to the commencement of the new works), was found to be 524 feet; the solids occupied by the piers 407 feet; the water-way between the starlings, at low water, was 231 feet; the space occupied by the piers and starlings is 700 feet.
This forms a bar of considerable magnitude to the navigation of the Thames.
VIEW OF OLD LONDON BRIDGE
the middle was a drawbridge.
There were 20 arches, of pointed forms, supported by massive piers of from 25 to 34 feet in thickness.
A chapel was built on the central pier, towards the east, in which its architect was afterwards interred ; and at the extremities it is said there were fortified gates.
It is also stated that many houses were erected on this bridge, as, in a calamitous fire, which occurred in 1213, on the Southwark side, and produced direful effects, according to Stowes account, "an exceeding great multitude of people passing the bridge, either to extinguish and quench it, or else to gaze and behold it; suddenly the north part was set on fire; and the people which were even now passing the bridge perceiving the same, would have returned, but were stopped by the fire.
The south end also taking fire prevented a passage either way, and the concourse of people were impelled to seek safety in the ships and other vessels that came to render assistance.
These were soon overladen and sunk; and the same author says, that "above three thousand persons were destroyed."
However calamitous this event, however absurd and silly the practice of building dwelling-houses on bridges, where abundance of land is attainable, - we find that the bridge was again crowded and obstructed by new habitations, and that it continued thus encumbered till the middle of the last century. [i.e c.1750]
To increase the public inconveniences and nuisance, a market was also held on the bridge; but this was ordered to be removed in 1276; when it was further ordained, that "no person should go out of the city to Southwark to buy cattle, or any wares which might be bought in the city."
In the winter of 1281 and 1282, a very severe frost taking place, the drifted ice threw down five arches of the bridge, which seems to have been previously in a decayed state, as Edward I., two years before, granted to the bridge-keepers a license to collect the charitable contributions of devout people throughout the kingdom, - "pro reparatione ejusdem [pontem] quod minatur ruinam," - for the reparation of London Bridge, threatened with ruin.
Notwithstanding letters patent were also issued requiring the clergy to aid the bridge-keepers in their collections, the sums procured must have been insufficient for the purpose, - as in 1281, the 10th of Edward I., other royal edicts were again issued for levying customs on all merchandise brought to London for three years, for the reparation of the bridge.
A similar tax was again levied in the 27th, and also in the 30th years of the same king's reign.
The structure itself is thus described in Strype's edition of Stow's Chronicle : -
"This bridge, with a chapel on the east side, and a gate at the south end, being thus all built of stone, as aforesaid, and houses of timber over the stone piers and arches on both sides thereof; yet there were, and still are, in the whole length of the bridge three vacancies, with stone walls and iron grates over them, on either side, opposite to each other; through which grates, people as they pass over the bridge may take a view of the river both east and west; and also may go aside more to each side, out of the way of carts and coaches, the passage being but narrow, and not only troublesome but dangerous.
These three vacancies are over three of the middle arches, for all the piers are not of a like thickness, nor stand at equal distance one from the other; for those under these three vacancies are much wider than the rest, and are called the navigable locks; because vessels of considerable burthen may pass through them.
One of these is near unto the second gate, and is called the Rock Lock; the second is under the second vacancy, where the drawbridge anciently was, and is called the Drawbridge Lock; and the third is near the chapel, and is called St. Mary's Lock.
There is a fourth between St. Magnus' Church and the first vacancy, and is called the King's Lock, for that the King in his passage through the bridge in his barge goes through this lock.
And in this condition was the bridge until the year 1632."
* Maitland's History, &c. of London, vol. i. p. KM.
On the 13th of February, in that year, a fire broke out near St. Magnus' Church, which consumed all the houses to the first vacancy; and they were not rebuilt till 1646.
In the great fire of 1666, the buildings at the north end were again destroyed; and their fall battered and weakened the stone-work of the bridge on which they stood.
The piers and arches were repaired, at the expense of £1500; after which the houses on the north side were re-erected, by persons who took leases of the ground.
The stone-work of the bridge, on the south side, having been also repaired (which cost nearly £1000), the houses were also rebuilt, to correspond with the others.
Many reparations were continually made to the edifice, for the purpose of keeping it together, to preserve the houses, and to resist the repeated injuries made by the violence of the currents.
About the middle of the last century [i.e.1750s] was an epoch of revolution in the bridge.
Labelye had completed Westminster Bridge, in 1749, - Mylne had begun another at Blackfriars, in 1769, - Mr. George Dance was then the City Architect, and the public were continually complaining of the loss of lives, property, &c. by the dangerous passage under London Bridge.
[ * The annual rental of the houses on the bridge in 1754 was £828. 6s. ]
An Act of Parliament was obtained to remove all buildings on, and contiguous to the bridge, to enlarge the avenues, improve the passage over, widen one or more arches, erect a uniform balustrade, make a road-way, 31 feet wide for carriages, to have a foot-way on each side 7 feet wide, to have it lighted and watched, to keep it clear of buildings, and of carriages standing for hire, to levy a new toll to defray the expenses, &c.
Whilst these works were in progress, a temporary wooden bridge was raised in 1757 at an expense of £2000; but this was destroyed by fire in the next year.
In 1759 the large centre arch was formed, from designs by Sir Robert Taylor and Mr. Dance, to occupy the space of two of the old arches.
Of the construction or materials of this old bridge, we are enabled to record a few facts from the memoranda of Mr. William Knight, assistant-engineer to the new edifice.
"The foundation of the piers, on the north side, between the great lock, and what is called the long entry lock, and in the starling round it, appeared to be about three feet above low-water mark.
The bottom of the masonry originally laid of the pier, is about 2 feet 3 inches above low-water mark; and the first course is laid upon a sill of oak, 16 inches wide by 9 in thickness, and perfectly sound.
Immediately beneath this is a mass of Kentish rubble, mixed with flint, chalk, &c. thrown in irregularly, but not mixed with any cement, and held together by the starlings.
The masonry above the sill seems well bonded together with good mortar joints, but there are no piles under the oak sill.
The external parts of the pier seem to have been new fronted at some period, probably at the time when the centre arch was formed, in 1759, as the base of this new fronting projects about one foot before the original pier.
There are no bearing piles under the original part of the pier, except a few stumps of elm on the outside; but to the new part there are some small ones driven into the rubble, which can be of little service, with some planks laid upon their edges.
The new masonry is well bonded into the old work.
The formation of the original starling shows the very rude way in which the old architect worked."
This is satisfactory information, to justify the remarks already made on the construction of the old bridge.
In April, 1826, it was found necessary to throw two more arches into one, for the purpose of giving freer passage for the water, as well as for navigation.
Mr. Knight then discovered the crowns of the old arches to be 8 feet 6 inches beneath the present road-way.
The accumulation appears to have been formed at five different times, as evinced by the difference of strata.
Over the crowns of the arches was a layer of gravel, 20 inches thick, above which was a stratum of chalk and gravel; this was followed by various materials; the next consisted of burnt wood, ruins, and black earth, on which is the present granite paving.
The arch-stones are of two kinds, that of the soffits being Merstham fire-stone, and the course above similar to that of Caen in Normandy.
The casing of the new work is Portland stone; whilst the chalk and mortar used for the backings and fillings in of the latter, was found to be of bad quality and carelessly applied.
The ashler facing had been so little attended to in the bonding of the work together, that it is surprising it was not forced out by the weight and pressure of the materials behind.
The citizens, as well as the legislature, have at length jointly co-operated to obtain a New Bridge,
which if it be not superior to every thing of the class hitherto produced - if indeed there be any thing like defect in the edifice itself,
or its collateral dependencies, - we shall be surprised at, and lament over the fallacy of human wisdom.
Designs, plans, calculations, soundings, all the arcana of theoretical and practical science, have been called into requisition, to collect and to concentrate information.
Among other eminent persons directly consulted upon the subject were the following, to whom a series of twenty-one questions were submitted, for their opinions and advice, but principally relating to iron bridges:
Dr. N. Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal;
the Rev. Dr. Robertson, Savilian Professor at Oxford;
John Playfair and John Robeson, Professors at Edinburgh;
Dr. Milner, and Dr. Hutton, Professors, of Woolwich;
and Mr. Atwood, Col.
Twiss, William Jessop,
Messrs. John Rennie and James Watt;
J. Southern, William Reynolds, J.
Wilkinson, Charles Bage, and General Bentham.
Designs and estimates were also obtained from all the eminent engineers, and from some of the first architects of the country.
All these proceedings were previous to, and about, the year 1801; and engravings of plans, sections, elevations, with estimates and other particulars, are fully detailed, for the benefit of the public, in three large unwieldy folio volumes of Reports, as published by order of the House of Commons.
Without going into the details of the oppositions and difficulties that were presented to a new bridge, the numerous candidates for the honour of erecting it, and into various circumstances connected with this great undertaking, suffice it to say that a design by the late Mr. Rennie was ultimately approved;
an Act of Parliament was obtained in July, 1823;
the first pile was driven March 15, 1824;
the foundation stone of the first pier was laid, with great ceremony, on the 15th June, 1825.
The New Bridge was formally opened on the 1st of August, 1831.
The accompanying prints will convey clearer information respecting the forms and proportions of the arches, and the comparative design of the two Bridges, with the appearance of the Old Bridge, and the works of the New, in March, 1827, than any language can impart.
[ I have not attempted to tidy up or make clearer any of the details other than a small degree of sharpening ]
Crossing the river by three colossal arches, between Queenhithe and Bankside, was designed and directed by the late John Rennie, Esq.
The arches of this gigantic edifice are of the largest span of any known to exist.
The soffits consist of solid masses of cast iron, of a depth similar to the voussoirs of a stone bridge, and exhibit the first instance in which such a bold plan has been carried into effect.
The middle arch rises 24 feet, with a span of 240 feet, and is 4 feet wider than the famous iron bridge at Sunderland.
It is composed of eight ribs, riveted to diagonal braces; each principal rib being 6 feet deep at the top of the arch, and gradually extending to 8 feet at the abutments, or parts that rest upon the stone-work.
Its whole height above low-water mark is 55 feet to the road-way.
The other arches are similarly formed; the span of the two side ones being 210 feet.
Many of the solid castings weigh 10 tons each, and the total weight of the iron is about 5780 tons.
The whole was cast at the extensive iron works of Messrs. Walker and Co. at Rotherham, in Yorkshire; and it was there put into arches, before it was shipped for London.
The abutments are of solid masonry, laid in radiating courses with large blocks of Bramley-fall and Whitby stones.
Vertical bond was adopted, running through every two courses, at intervals; thereby giving to the whole mass a solidity perfectly immovable.
The masonry of the piers, in like manner, was carried up with horizontal and vertical courses to the springing of the arches; from which points they radiate in a wedge-like form.
These piers are 60 feet high from the bed of the river to the top of the parapet, and 24 feet in breadth.
The foundations of this bridge were laid in coffer dams, which were obliged to be much larger and stronger than those at Waterloo Bridge, from the difference of the bed of the river, of the extent of the arches, &c.
The dams were of elliptical forms, and were constructed with three rows of piles, of whole timber.
In the spaces occupied by the base of the masonry of the piers, a row of whole timber sheeting piles was driven all round the outer edge of the offsets, forming as it were a square internal dam.
These piles, while they formed a secure barrier to the foundation of the piers, acted as a powerful auxiliary to the main dam in securing its base.
The centerings on which the arches were turned were of a peculiarly novel and ingenious construction. [Vide print 2.]
This bridge was erected with such great skill, that the settling of the centre arch, at the vertex, was only 1 inch 7-8ths, which was exactly 1-8th of an inch less than what had been allowed for in putting it together.
It was entirely built at the expense of a joint stock company; and, including its connecting avenues, the charges amounted to about £800,000.
The work was commenced on the 23rd of September, 1814, and the first stone of the south pier laid by Lord Keith, May 23, 1815.
On the 7th June, 1817, the Right Honourable Matthew Wood, as Lord Mayor, laid the first stone of the northern abutment;
and the bridge was opened in April, 1819.
On the South-wark side a new road has been formed, leading towards St. Margaret's Hill; and on the London side, it opens to Queen Street.
By the annexed prints the reader will obtain a clear idea of the form, arches, construction, proportions, &c. of the bridge.
One of the prints represents the elevation of the three arches, with two piers in the river, and the two abutment piers at the ends, having barrel arches within them.
The transverse section, with plan of one arch longitudinally, with the writing and figures on the plates, will render further description unnecessary.
The plan for the erection of this bridge originated about the same time with that for the improvement of London Bridge.
These were rival schemes, and both were much retarded by the clashing interests of their respective advocates.
The propriety of building a bridge over the Thames, between those of London and Westminster, was discussed in the Court of Common Council in December 1753, and soon afterwards a committee was appointed to put it in execution.
A pamphlet was published in 1754, ascribed to Samuel Dicker, Esq., entitled, "An Essay on the many advantages accruing to the community, from the superior neatness, conveniences, decorations and embellishments, of great and capital cities, &c."
The author, among other improvements, recommended the arching over Fleet-ditch, and the building a new bridge thence to the opposite shore, either of stone, or of oak timber on stone piers.
[ * Northouck's "History of London", p. 380. ]
This situation was ultimately adopted; and after some delay, a petition, from the Corporation of London, was presented to Parliament, Jan. 13th, 1756; in consequence of which, an act was passed, authorising the erection of a bridge across the Thames at Blackfriars, and directing that it should be so constructed as to leave a clear water-way of at least 750 feet; and that no buildings, except the proper gates and tollhouses, should be erected upon the bridge.
The act also provided for the watching, lighting, and regulating the amount of the tolls to be levied.
Upon the credit of these tolls, the Mayor and Corporation were empowered to raise £30,000 per annum, till the whole sum amounted to £160,000.
Further powers were given to fill up the channel of Bridewell Dock, between Fleet Bridge and the Thames, and to make sufficient drains and sewers into the river.
The Bridge Committee, from a variety of plans, gave preference to that of Mr. Robert Mylne, a Scotch Architect, who had just returned from Rome, where he had been pursuing his professional studies.
This bridge was built on piles; the first of which was driven in the middle of the river the 7th of June, I760.
On the last day of October, in the same year, the first stone was laid by the Lord Mayor, Sir Thomas Chitty, attended by the Bridge Committee.
Under the stone were deposited several gold, silver, and copper coins of the reign of George II., together with the silver medal given to the Architect by the Roman Academy.
Besides many coins, a plate was also placed under the foundation, with a Latin inscription, commemorating the political merits of the celebrated William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, from whom it was intended the bridge should have taken its name.
The bridge was so far finished that a bridle-way over it was opened towards the end of 1768; and in the course of 1770 the work was completed; its erection having taken up about ten years and three quarters.
From abstracts of the accounts laid by the Bridge Committee before the Court of Aldermen, it appeared that the sum of £166,217 had been paid on account of the bridge, including the expense of piling the foundations of the piers, arching and filling up Fleet-ditch, making the road from Fleet Street to the south side of the river, and for other extraneous works.
These charges being deducted, the net expense of the building the bridge was £152,840.
[ M. Grosley, who was in England while Blackfriars' Bridge was building, has recorded the following information: -
"The foundations of the piers are made by caissons ranged along the banks of the river, and which are afterwards placed upon the pilings destined to receive them.
The difficulty is to drive these pilings.
They are all of an equal height, but sink down unequally, according to the different sorts of ground.
Before the caissons are laid, the piles are made regular by cutting them to an equal height, by means of a saw formed with great ingenuity, and with which they can work under water with equal speed and exactness.
I saw with astonishment that no wood but fir was made use of, either in the pilings or the caissons.
I was informed that what determined the Architect was the good condition of some very old planks of this wood which were found in the bed of the Thames, and proved more durable than oak.
" - Tour to London, translated by Dr. Nugent. 1772.]
This edifice [Blackfriars' Bridge] is 995 feet in length, from wharf to wharf; and the breadth of the carriage-way over it is 28 feet, with a raised foot-path 7 feet broad, on each side.
It consists of nine arches, of a figure nearly elliptical.
The central arch is 100 feet wide, and those on each side decrease gradually towards the shores, being, respectively, 98, 93, 83, and 70, leaving a clear water-way of 788 feet.
The form of the arches has enabled the Architect to give the road-way a very gentle curvature, being a segment of a large circle.
Each side of the bridge is guarded by an open stone balustrade, 4 feet ten inches high, so that it does not, like that of Westminster Bridge, impede the prospect.
Over each pier is an open recess or balcony, supported by two slender columns of the Ionic order, and two pilasters, which rest on a semicircular projection from the pier, above high-water mark.
The extremities of the bridge are rounded off on each side in the form of a quadrant of a circle, rendering the access convenient and agreeable.
There are two flights of stone steps leading down to the river, at each end of the bridge.
By the annexed engraving, the reader will recognise the design of the whole elevation, the plans of piers, road-way, and stairs; also one of the arches, with centering, as shown in elevation and section.
[Waterloo Bridge] not only an important and interesting feature of the river Thames,
but has obtained the praises of professional men and critics of many nations.
It affords a fine, level, and pleasing road across the river, and, from its beautifully simple design and stability of execution, is calculated not only to last, but to perpetuate the name of its Architect to distant ages.
It stands about half-way between the bridges of Blackfriars and Westminster, and is one among many other instances of the enterprising spirit of Englishmen when concentrated in companies.
In June 1809, an Act of Parliament was obtained for the incorporation of a body of subscribers, under the appellation of the "Strand Bridge Company" empowering them to raise the sum of £500,000 in transferable shares of £10O each; and the further sum of £300,000 by the issuing new shares, or by mortgage, in case it should be found necessary.
Another Act of Parliament was passed in July 1813, authorising the Company to raise an additional sum of £200,000; and in July 1816, a third Act was obtained, to invest further powers in the proprietors, at the same time changing the name of the bridge to that of Waterloo.
The late Mr. Ralph Dodd may be said to have projected this scheme, as he did many others; but before any works were commenced, the late Mr. John Rennie was applied to by the Committee.
He furnished two designs for the bridge, one with seven arches, and the other with nine; the latter of which was adopted and carried into execution.
The site chosen was a little to the west of Somerset Place, where the river is 1326 feet wide, at high water.
The first stone was laid on the llth of Oct. 1811.
The foundations were laid in coffer dams,* formed by three concentric rows of piles, at the distance of about 3 feet 6 inches apart.
* It is said, that this is the first instance of laying foundations in the river Thames in coffer dams, caissons being previously used.
The ground was found to be mostly a stratum of gravel over another of clay, and into this were driven beach and elm piles, 12 inches in diameter by about 20 feet in length.
Between the foundation was rammed in, to the depth of 18 inches, Kentish rag stone, laid in liquid mortar.
Timber sills, or bearing piles, transversely and longitudinally, were fastened to the heads of the piles.
Over the whole was a flooring of 6-inch beech plank, secured to the sills by long spikes, and made perfectly level, to receive the first course of masonry.
The whole surface of the piers and abutments, as well as the arches, consists of large blocks of Cornish granite, bonding inwards from 3 to 5 feet.
The hearting, or filling in, consists of blocks of Craigleith and Derbyshire stone, of corresponding magnitude, every course of which was grouted with liquid mortar.
In constructing the arches, the beds or joints were worked with the greatest care; and, to give additional security, four chain bars of iron were worked transversely into each arch.
The spandrels between the arches, in the transverse direction, were filled with six division walls, each three bricks thick, and carried up to the level of the extrados of the arches.
The whole space was covered with stone corbels, to receive and support the road-ways.
The spaces between were left hollow, to diminish the weight on the haunches of the arches, and through these hollow spaces the drainage of the bridge is conducted by means of cast iron pipes.
(This construction, with the pipes, &c. is exemplified in the annexed engraving, in which the general elevation is also displayed.)
[I have shown this diagram first as most appropriate to the text]
The arches of the bridge are of a semi-elliptical figure, and are all equal, being 120 feet in span, with a rise of 35 feet;
leaving 30 feet clear height above the surface water of spring tides, and forming altogether a clear water-way of 1080 feet.
The abutments are 40 feet thick at their bases, and lessen gradually to 30 feet at the springing of the arches.
They are each 140 feet long, including the stairs.
The piers are 30 feet wide at their bases, diminishing to 20, at the springing of the arches.
Their extreme lengths are 87 feet; the points, or salient angles, towards the stream having the form of the Gothic arch.
Above they are terminated by two three-quarter columns of the Grecian Doric order, supporting an entablature, which forms a square balcony or recess.
The sides of the bridge are defended by an open balustrade, with a frieze and cornice.
The carriage-road is 28 feet wide, with a foot-path of 7 feet on each side.
The roads or approaches to either end of this bridge are 70 feet in width, except at the entrance into the Strand.
They are carried over a series of semicircular arches, each 16 feet in span.
The approach on the Surrey side of the river is formed by 39 of these arches, besides an elliptical arch, of 26 feet span, over the Narrow-wall road, and a small embankment, about 165 yards long.
The whole length of the brick arches in the Surrey approach is 766 feet.
[The whole length of the brick arches] in the Strand approach [is] 310 [feet.]
Total length of the Bridge from the ends of the abutments 1380 [feet]
[totalling] 2456 [feet].
In building the arches, the stones were rammed together with very considerable force; so that, upon the removal of the centres, none of the arches sunk more than an inch and a half.
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."
The accompanying print shows:
the elevation of the whole bridge - A;
plan of half the road-way, - B;
four of the piers, - C;
abutment pier, - D;
elevation of one arch, - E;
transverse section, with stairs, toll-bars, and toll-houses, - F.
[ I have changed the position of this diagram as best suits the text]
The project of erecting a bridge across the Thames at Westminster, appears to have been determined on in 1735;
and in the following year an Act of Parliament was passed to authorise the building of the edifice, now standing.
From a pamphlet published by Hawksmoor in 1735, entitled, "A Short Historical Account of London Bridge, with a Proposition for a new Stone Bridge at Westminster," it appears that five different situations were proposed for the site of the bridge: - from Whitehall, - from St. Stephen's Alley, at the end of King Street, - from New Palace Yard, - from the end of College Street, - and at the Horse Ferry, Mill-bank.
It is scarely necessary to observe, that the intermediate spot was that ultimately chosen.
The first stone of the new structure was laid January 29th, 1739, by Henry, Earl of Pembroke; and on the 10th of November, 1750, the last stone was laid; so that its erection occupied the space of eleven years and nine months:
the amount of the sums expended on it was £389,500.*
[ * This was the gross sum accruing from the profits of lotteries and parliamentary grants between the years 1737 and 1749. - Maitland's Ifutory of London, vol.ii. p.1350.
In Rees's Cyclopedia, vol v. art. Bridge, it is stated that the net expense of this structure was £218,800.
It has been computed, that materials of this bridge to the value of £40,000 are always under water.
The caisson on which the first pier was erected contained one hundred and fifty loads of timber, on which were laid 3000 cubic feet, or nearly three tons, of solid stone.
It would have been completed much sooner, and at less expense, but for a failure of one of the piers, which settled irregularly, owing to the incautious removal of some gravel near its base.
This damaged the superincumbent arch so much, that it was thought necessary to take it down; and by laying very heavy weights on the lower part of the pier, the foundation was rendered secure from the recurrence of another accident.
This happened in 1747, when the bridge was almost finished ; and though immediately attributable to the disturbance of the bed of the river, was also partly caused by the mode of building with caissons, instead of piling the whole foundation.
The plan which the Architect adopted, was to have a cavity of five or more feet deep, dug in the bed of the river, of a proper size to receive the bottom of a caisson, or wooden case, made water-tight, and containing the lower part of the pier completed in masonry and well connected together.
This being lowered exactly to its proper situation, the water was pumped out, and the pier, being carried up to a convenient height, the sides of the case were removed, to be used elsewhere.
The perpendicular dimensions or depths of the piers are different; none of their foundations being laid at a less depth than five feet below the surface of the bed of the river, and none of them at a greater depth than fourteen feet.
This variation depends on the nature of the ground; the firm bed of gravel on which the piers are placed lying much deeper on the south than on the north side of the river.
All the piers are constructed throughout of Portland stone, every block of which weighs at least a ton, many of them are two or three, and several four or five tons, exclusive of some smaller stones placed at intervals, called closers.
The stones are all set in a cement termed Dutch Tarras; besides which, they are connected together with iron cramps fastened with lead, so placed that none of the cramps can be seen, or be affected by the water.
This bridge is 1223 feet in length, and 44 feet in breadth, having on each side the carriage-way a foot-path for passengers.
It consists of thirteen large and two small semicircular arches, with fourteen intermediate piers and two abutments.
All the arches spring about two feet above low-water mark.
The central arch is 76 feet wide, and the others decrease on either side by equal intervals of four feet.
The two smaller arches, at the ends, are each 25 feet wide.
Every pier is about 70 feet in length from point to point, each of them terminating in a salient angle in either direction of the stream.
The piers which support the central arch are 17 feet wide at the springing of the arches; and the rest are each one foot narrower than the preceding, leaving a clear water-way of 870 feet.
Each side of the bridge is defended by a lofty balustrade, interrupted by fourteen recesses, which were formerly covered with semi-domes, or alcoves placed over the piers.
Over the central arch is a rectangular recess, forming an exterior projection towards the water.
Not less caution has been used in constructing the arches than the piers, - the soffit of every arch being turned and built quite through, as in front, with blocks of Portland stone; over which is another arch of Purbeck stone, bonded with Portland.
This is four or five times thicker on the reins than over the crown; being so arranged, that by means of the secondary arch, together with the superincumbent weight, all the parts of each arch are kept in equilibrio.
Between every two arches is a drain to carry off the surface water, which might otherwise penetrate between the joints of the structure.
At each extremity of the bridge are flights of steps, constructed of Moor-stone, for the convenience of shipping and landing goods and passengers.
This bridge was erected from the designs of Monsieur Labelye, a native of Switzerland, who asserted that nearly double the quantity of stone was used in its construction than in that of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Some idea of the vast conveniency of the bridges, and of the extent of traffic across them, may be formed from the following particulars,
which were made as a guide in preparing an estimate of the expected tolls of the Strand, or Waterloo Bridge.
On the average of six weeks daily counting, in the summer and winter of 1808, there passed over Westminster Bridge 32,000 persons, and over Black friars' Bridge 48,000 persons, every twenty-four hours:
but on a fine Sunday in August, upwards of 70,000 persons walked over the latter bridge.
In July, 1811, an enumeration was made, on the same day, at Blackfriars' and at London Bridge, from which the following abstract was taken: -
|Carts and drays||1502||2924|
|Gigs and taxed carts||500||485|
The two accompanying engravings will clearly exemplify the design, construction, and peculiarities of this bridge.
Though not belonging to the metropolis at present , [Vauxhall Bridge] will, in the course of a few years, be completely connected with Westminster,
by a line of buildings on the north side, as it already is, on the south side, with Lambeth and Newington.
It is constructed of Cast Iron, and consists of nine arches, of equal span, supported by stone piers, rusticated, and partly composed of rude fragments, united by Parker's cement.
The span of each arch is 78 feet, and the height is 29 feet: the breadth of the road-way is 36 feet; and the whole length of the bridge is 809 feet.
The first stone was laid May 9, 1811, and it was opened in July, 1816.
In consequence of disputes, four Architects were employed in this bridge, viz. Ralph Dodd, Sir James Bentham, Mr Rennie, and Mr. James Walker, the latter of whom designed it, and obtained much credit for his judicious arrangement and activity in completing it in its present form, after the original design, of building a stone bridge here, had been abandoned.
The expense was about £300,000.