Thames Tour – Hungerford Suspension Bridge, Bradshaw’s Handbook no.112

Hungerford Suspension Bridge, by Brunel, is a marvel of modern mechanical ingenuity.. This is the great central focus of the passenger traffic of the Thames..’, says Mr Bradshaw.

Hungerford Suspension Bridge (http://design.designmuseum.org/design/isambard-kingdom-brunel)
Hungerford Suspension Bridge, c.1845 (http://design.designmuseum.org/design/isambard-kingdom-brunel)

The bridge designed by Brunel was built between 1841-45 as a foot bridge. The Engineering Times tells us a little more: ‘…Brunel’s bow-string girder suspension footbridge, since demolished. It had two masonry towers and a pair of double wrought iron chains suspending the walkway.The total length of the bridge was 1,362ft. The main span was 676ft and the deck was 14ft wide. It was pulled down in 1863 to make way for Hungerford Rail Bridge (John Hawkshaw), to take trains into Charing Cross. However, the two masonry piers of Brunel’s bridge survive and are built into the structure of the present bridge — Middlesex Pier, which lies adjacent to the north bank, and Surrey Pier, which lies three quarters of the way across towards the south bank and now forms an integral part of the 2003 Hungerford footbridge.The chains were used to build Clifton Suspension Bridge, the completion of which was undertaken by a group of engineers as a memorial to Brunel…’.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, 1878 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suspension_bridge_at_Clifton.jpg)
Clifton Suspension Bridge, 1878 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suspension_bridge_at_Clifton.jpg)
Bristol Suspension Bridge (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uk_bristol_csbchains.jpg)
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, today (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uk_bristol_csbchains.jpg)

Sir John Hawkshaw‘s rail bridge opened in 1864 and footways were added later on either side of the railway. Sir John was an important engineer, responsible for both Charing Cross and Cannon Street Stations, and with wide national and international experience. (The picture below shows the remains of the brick towers, with the pier for steam boat passengers, and the latticed ironwork of the railway bridge.)

Hungerford Rail Bridge (http://www.skydive.ru/en/londons-bridges/335-hungerford-bridge-part-two.html)
Hungerford Rail Bridge (http://www.skydive.ru/en/londons-bridges/335-hungerford-bridge-part-two.html)

The photograph below shows the  masonry pier close to the South Bank, with the door to the stairs and the steamboat pier clearly visible – if you know the bridge’s history!

Brunel's brick pier supporting the Hungerford Bridge into Charing Cross
Brunel’s brick pier supporting the Hungerford Bridge into Charing Cross
Brunel's brick pier on the South Bank with Hawkshaw's iron railway bridge
Brunel’s brick pier on the South Bank with Hawkshaw’s iron railway bridge
Hawkshaw's iron railway bridge
Hawkshaw’s iron railway bridge

By the 1990s the footbridges were no longer safe and in 2002 the new Golden Jubilee Footbridge was opened.

The Golden Jubilee footbridge
The Golden Jubilee footbridge
The Golden Jubilee footbridge
The Golden Jubilee footbridge
Brunel's Middlesex brick pier, Hawkshaw's iron railway bridge, & the Jubilee footbridge
Brunel’s Middlesex brick pier, Hawkshaw’s iron railway bridge, & the Jubilee footbridge
Brunel's Middlesex brick pier, Hawkshaw's iron railway bridge, & the Jubilee footbridge
Brunel’s Middlesex brick pier, Hawkshaw’s iron railway bridge, & the Jubilee footbridge

You may be interested in
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
The steam boats on the Thames

5 comments

  1. I came across The Book of the Thames by SC Hall – 1859 on the British Library website the other day, I’m sure you’d love it (if you haven’t already read it). You can download a pdf. I came back to your London bridges posts to see how things have changed.

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    • Thank you for visiting – I hope the photographs are giving you feel for the changes? And thank you for the suggestion of the book – it is now on its way to me! I am enjoying the bridges and I can see it will take me quite a while to complete the journey.

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      • Yes thank you, I’ve been trying to visualise London before the embankment but all the ongong changes are fascinating too.
        I remember the old Hungeford footbridge well from the early 90s, I lost count of the amount of times I hurried across to catch a film at the BFI and always against the flow of the main pedestrian traffic!

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