‘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.
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…’.
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.)
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!
By the 1990s the footbridges were no longer safe and in 2002 the new Golden Jubilee Footbridge was opened.