Thames Tour – Blackfriars Bridge, Bradshaw’s HandBook, no.109

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, 1762 (www.thames.me.uk)
Blackfriars Bridge, 1762 (www.thames.me.uk)

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.

Blackfriars Bridge, 1792 (https://exhibitionologist.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/review-bridge)
Blackfriars Bridge, 1792 (https://exhibitionologist.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/review-bridge)
Blackfriars Bridge, 1802 (http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/1859map/blackfriars_bridge.html)
Blackfriars Bridge, 1802 (http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/1859map/blackfriars_bridge.html)

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.

The Blackfriars Pub, remembering the Priory, with the railway bridge behind
The Blackfriars Pub, remembering the Priory, with the railway bridge behind
The entrance to the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries
The entrance to the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries

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.

Trams on Blackfriars Bridge, (www.http://usuaris.tinet.org)
Trams on Blackfriars Bridge, (www.http://usuaris.tinet.org)
Blackfriars Bridge today
Blackfriars Bridge today
The railings of Blackfriars Bridge with the railway bridge behind
The railings of Blackfriars Bridge with the railway bridge behind
The columns on Blackfriars Bridge
The columns on Blackfriars Bridge

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.

Blackfriars Railway Bridge (www.tommyburns.org.uk)
Blackfriars Railway Bridge (www.tommyburns.org.uk)
The original railway bridge at Blackfriars
The original railway bridge at Blackfriars
The columns of the 1st railway bridge with the 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars behind
The columns of the 1st railway bridge with the 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars behind

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.

The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars
The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars (today’s railway bridge)
The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars (today's railway bridge)
The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars (today’s railway bridge)
The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars (today's railway bridge)
The 2nd railway bridge at Blackfriars (today’s railway bridge)

 

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!

 

2 comments

  1. Most interesting as usual! You may be interested to know that part of one of the buildings of the former Blackfriars Priory – possibly either the prior’s house or the provincial prior’s house – can still be seen in Ireland Yard. Sadly, nothing remains of the former priory gate-house, which after the Dissolution (actually in 1613) ended up being bought by Shakespeare, although there is a Corporation Blue Plaque on a later building on St Andrews Hill to mark its site. Nor anything of the Blackfriars Theatre, built on the priory site after the Dissolution, although there is at least a clue to its existence in the name of Playhouse Yard (just south of the Apothecaries’ Hall).

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    • Oh yes, I am interested – I have wandered about that block before, but next time will look out for the door – thank you. And thank you for the compliment – real praise from someone like you!

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