‘Blackfriars Bridge, which is the next reached, has had its architectural beauty somewhat spoiled by the removal of the balustrades and the substitution of a plain parapet….There is a fine view here of St Paul’s…’ says Mr Bradshaw, but today St Paul’s can only really be seen from the Wobbly Bridge.
Blackfriars Bridge no.1 was designed by John Gwyn and George Dance and built between 1760-69. It was only the third bridge over the River Thames. (London Bridge and Westminster Bridges were the first and second bridges.) The site was chosen because it coincided with the Fleet River and so would cause minimum disruption on the north bank, and on the south bank the access road met other bridge roads (Westminster, Southwark Bridge) at St George’s Circus. The mouth of the Fleet River is just north of the bridge. Prior to the bridge a ferry was the only means of crossing the river here. Sadly Paris Gardens Manor was pulled down to make way for the bridge.
Originally known as William Pitt Bridge the popular name eventually prevailed, referring to the Priory in the City, close to the bridge. The Blackfriars Priory was closed down with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, but the Apothecaries Company took over the Priory Guesthouse and although this building subsequently burned down, the Apothecaries Company remains on the same site. (Interesting post here, although the painting above must be later than 1762.) The bridge construction, however, was faulty and the bridge was demolished in 1864.
Blackfriars Bridge no.2 was designed and built by Thomas Cubitt in 1869 and opened by Queen Victoria. This is the busiest bridge into City and carries over 50,000 vehicles each day.
At the same time the railway bridge no.1 for the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, was built alongside the road and pedestrian bridge and designed by Joseph Cubitt.This railway bridge was closed in 1885 and used as a goods depot. The bridge was eventually too weak to support modern train and was eventually demolished in 1984, leaving only the columns which supported the bridge.
The Railway Bridge no.2, St Paul’s Bridge, was built in 1886. Today’s bridge is partially supported on these old piers, but revolutionary in that it is powered by solar energy, and includes light pipes and systems for collecting rain water.
You may be interested in
Trams & Trolleybuses in London
Blackfriars Bridge – history & photographs – very interesting
The lost monastic houses of London
The Bridges of Old London – excellent post from Spitalfields Life, as always
Blackfriars Bridge – a perambulation – interesting!
Edith’s Streets for this area – an amazing resource!!!
Blackfriars Bridge – a previous post!