The first engineer, John Rennie (senior), had planned a
blue sandstone bridge with seven arches but as finances were tight Rennie
suggested a new lighter design of eleven cast iron arches.
This was not accepted either and after some delay Mr J Grellier was commissioned to build a nine arched iron bridge to a design by Sir Samuel Bentham. The Bentham plans were abandoned after doubts over the quality of the work and fears by conservation bodies that the proposed bridge would adversely affect the flow of the Thames.
Eventually it was James Walker who built the granite faced cast-iron structure with eight piers. It was the first iron bridge over the Thames in London.
1811: Lord Dundas, representing the Prince Regent, laid the first stone on the Middlesex side for what was to have been called the Regent's Bridge.
Metropolitan Improvements: Or, London in the Nineteenth Century, Displayed by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, James Elmes, 1827 -
The first stone of this bridge was laid by the late Duke of Brunswick
on the 21st of August, 1813, and on the 4th of June, 1816, being three
years from the time of Mr. Walker's engagement with the company, the
ceremonial of opening the bridge was performed.
The width of the river Thames at Vauxhall is about nine hundred feet, the depth at low water from eight to ten feet, and the rise of the tide about twelve feet. The bridge, as may be seen in the plate, consists of nine arches of seventy-eight feet span, and eight piers, each thirteen feet wide. The length of the bridge, clear of the abutments, is eight hundred and six feet ; the rise of the centre arch above high water mark twenty-seven feet ; the clear width of the bridge is thirty-six feet, divided into a carriageway of twenty-five feet, and two footways of five feet six inches each. The rise of the roadway upon the bridge is one foot in thirty-five to the middle of the fourth arch from each side ; the line of the roadway over the centre arch, and half an arch on each side of it, being curved to meet the inclined planes formed by the roadway over the other arches, as shown in the view.
1817: Vauxhall Bridge -
Vauxhall Bridge, 1817
1827: Vauxhall Bridge from Mill Bank in Metropolitan Improvements, James Elmes -
Vauxhall Bridge from Mill Bank, 1827
1829: Low Tide near Vauxhall Bridge -
Low Tide near Vauxhall Bridge, 1829
Vauxhall Bridge, 1836 Tombleson
Vauxhall Bridge, Havell
Bridge finances -
For this bridge we know what its promoters hoped. Its prospectus put its construction cost
at the curiously precise sum of £150,448-1s and added an estimate of £11,000 for the cost of
approach roads. The revenue estimates were equally precise, though justified only in the
following rather general terms:
As between 16,000 and 17,000 persons, from calculations, pass over Westminster Bridge on an ordinary day, and between 20,000 and 30,000 over Blackfriars Bridge, it may be reasonable to suppose 8,500 persons will pass over the intended Princes Bridge, (and most probably a greater number, when we consider it as the nearest Communication from the West of the Metropolis with the populous Places and Villages of Clapham, Camberwell, Stockwell, Kennington, Vauxhall, South Lambeth and the principal Surrey and Kent Roads).
|Halfpenny per foot passenger||£6463.10.10|
|400 carts per day @ 3d||£1825.0.0|
|400 carriages of pleasure @ 6d||£3650.0.0|
|300 horses @ 2d||£912.10.0|
|Improved approaches on each shore||£4,500|
|Less repairs and salaries||-£1,500.0.0|
Unfortunately, the cost of the bridge ended up at £262,376.
It was financed by £212,742 raised by a series of £100 share issues over the years 1812-25
and by promissory notes issued at 5% to the proprietors. The interest on these was met
from the surplus of tolls over expenses until 1823 and they were subsequently paid off
by a rights issue at a price of a mere £28 which doubled the number of shares.
Thus the average issue price of the shares was £64 and by the late sixties and
early seventies they were earning annual dividends of £1.14.0, a nominal yield of 2.7%.
As the companys secretary put it in 1865, it was:
a poor paying concern, but not so bad as some of the others.
Finally, compensation from the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1878 amounted to £262,821, less than the companys nominal capital. It had not been a good investment.
The old Vauxhall Bridge of 1816 began to deteriorate
1881: Two central piers were removed, as they were impeding river traffic, and replaced by one long arch.
1897: OLD Vauxhall Bridge, James Dredge. [This is labelled NEW Vauxhall Bridge, but it is the 1816 bridge. The OLD bridge had about nine arches. The NEW bridge started in 1898 has five.] -
OLD (1816) Vauxhall Bridge, James Dredge, 1897
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; D230202a
And this is also the Old 1816 Bridge -
Old Vauxhall Bridge
A temporary wooden bridge was used during construction of the new bridge.
Has anybody got a picture of this temporary wooden bridge?
1906: New Vauxhall Bridge opened by the Prince of Wales.
759 feet long, 80 feet wide. The appearance of the structure of five steel arches is enlivened by the heroic-sized statues which stand in front of each of the river-piers. The statues represent Arts and Sciences: Downstream are Local Government; Education; Fine Arts; and Astronomy, while upstream are: Agriculture; Architecture; Engineering; and Pottery.
Architect: W.E. Riley. Engineers: Alexander Binnie and Maurice Fitzmaurice. Contractor: Petwick Bros
This bridge was the first in London to carry trams.
Vauxhall New Bridge
1943: Millbank Emergency Bridge. I am told this was erected as a standby in case other bridges were destroyed by bombing. Can anyone help with evidence of this?
Millbank Emergency Bridge, 1943
Millbank Emergency Bridge, 1943
1998: The Thames Archaeological survey found the
remains of a huge oak bridge built 3500 years ago not far from where the river
Effra empties into the Thames.
Two parallel lines of large oak posts (40 cm across) led into the river spaced about 5m apart which suggested that this was a bridge rather than anything less substantial, such as a jetty.
The bridge may not have crossed the whole river but instead might have formed a link to a long disappeared island in what would have been a much broader Thames