Vauxhall Bridge – Thames Tour, Bradshaw’s Handbook, no.115

‘..Vauxhall Bridge, with a pier affording convenient facilities for passenger, is now encountered..’, says Mr Bradshaw.

Prior to Vauxhall Bridge a ferry took people across the river. The Huntley Ferry operated on Sundays, taking people to the Pleasure GardensThe company was compensated for loss of trade when the bridge was built, and while there were other ferries of course, this one was mentioned regarding compensation. The slipway below is used today by London Duck Tours

London Duck Tours slipway at Vauxhall Bridge

London Duck Tours slipway at Vauxhall Bridge

Bridge no.1, Regent Bridge, is today’s Vauxhall Bridge and was built between 1809-16. The first two designs were rejected, and finally a design by James Walker prevailed, the first iron bridge over the Thames.

Old Vauxhall Bridge, 1897 (http://thames.me.uk/s00150.htm#top)

Old Vauxhall Bridge, 1897 (http://thames.me.uk/s00150.htm#top)

In 1881 two central piers were removed to provide more space for shipping, and this, together with changed water pressures caused by increased traffic and more bridges over the river changing the tidal patterns weakened the structure. The bridge deteriorated and in 1898 a temporary wooden bridge was put in place while a new bridge was built.

Demolition of the Temporary Wooden Bridge at Vauxhall (http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/File:ImV103-p415.jpg)

Demolition of the Temporary Wooden Bridge at Vauxhall (http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/File:ImV103-p415.jpg)

Vauxhall Bridge no.2 replaced Bridge no.1 in 1906. Like the first bridge this design was problematic. It was the first London bridge to carry trams, and one of the first roads to have a bus lane. (Excellent article on building the bridge here.)

Vauxhall Bridge upstream today

Vauxhall Bridge upstream today

Vauxhall Bridge upstream

Vauxhall Bridge upstream

Vauxhall Bridge upstream

Vauxhall Bridge upstream

The bridge was considered very plain and functional (it looks quite gaudy to me!) and complaints about this led to a decision to place statues on the piers. Alfred Drury and Frederick Pomeroy created bronze statues. ‘..On the upstream piers are Pomeroy’s Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering and Pottery, whilst on the downstream piers are Drury’s Science, Fine Arts, Local Government and Education. Each statue weighs approximately two tons…’. The statues were difficult to photograph but here is a taster of Pomeroy’s statues! And Drury on the downstream side.

A Drury statue on the downstream side of Vauxhall Bridge

A Drury statue on the downstream side of Vauxhall Bridge

A Drury statue on the downstream side of Vauxhall Bridge

A Drury statue on the downstream side of Vauxhall Bridge

The River Effra debouches into the Thames at the bridge. I visited at high water but this excellent site (with accompanying book) has photographs taken at low water.

The River Effra at Vauxhall Bridge

The River Effra at Vauxhall Bridge

In 1973 the cast-iron balustrades were replaced – today’s railings are gasping for paint!

15-11-9 Vauxhall Bridge LR-7920

During the War a temporary bridge was built further upstream, as a backup against possible bombing of Vauxhall Bridge, which, in fact, was unharmed.

Temporary Millbank Bridge (http-:www.vauxhallcivicsociety.org.uk:history:millbank-bridge:)

You may be interested in
Vauxhall Bridge in much earlier times
Vauxhall Bridge no.2 building problems
Vauxhall Bridge, and the remains of the paddle steamer jetty
A crossing at Vauxhall dating to 1500BC?