Vauxhall Bridge: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Vauxhall Bridge.

  • The Vauxhall Bridge is a an arch bridge that crosses the River Thames in London, linking Vauxhall and Pimlico.

  • It is made from steel and granite and opened in 1906.
  • Vauxhall Bridge replaced Regent Bridge (later known as Vauxhall Bridge), which was used from 1816 to 1898.
  • When the new Vauxhall Bridge opened, it was the first London bridge to carry trams.
  • Today, the bridge is an important transport link, carrying the A202 road across the Thames.
  • The bridges piers are decorated with 8 vast bronze statues, designed by Alfred Drury and Frederick Pomeroy. The statue titles include, Agriculture, Architecture, Education, Fine Arts and Engineering. They are not visible from the bridge itself.
  • The Architecture statue holds a model of St Paul’s Cathedral in her hand.
  • The government was concerned that the bridge would be bombed during World War 2, but it survived the Blitz.
  • In 1993, in the River Thames next to Vauxhall Bridge, archaeologists discovered the remains of on of the earliest bridge-like structures in London. It has been dated between 1550 BC – 300 BC and historians think it had been dismantled before Julius Caesar‘s Roman expedition to Britain.
  • The bridge was designed by Sir Alexander Binnie and Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice.
  • It has total length of 247 metres, and it is 24 metres wide.

Tower Bridge Facts

Here are some facts about London’s Tower Bridge.

  • Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894.
  • It spans the River Thames, connecting the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (north side) and Southwark (south side).

  • The bridge combines elements of a suspension bridge design with elements of a bascule bridge design. It has two towers linked by two walkways and suspended sections to either side of the towers, stretching towards the banks of the Thames.
  • Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect.
  • The central span of the bridge can be raised to allow ships to pass.
  • More than 400 workers helped to build the bridge and over 70000 tons of concrete were was sunk to the bed of the River Thames to suport the bridge.
  • Tower Bridge is 244 metres long and each tower is 65 metres high.
  • The pedestrian walkways are over 40 metres above the river when it’s at high tide.
  • Although the design of the bridge is much admired today, it was quite heavily criticised when it was built.
  • Over 40000 people use Tower Bridge every day.
  • River traffic takes priority over bridge users, but you must give 24 hours notice if you need the bascules to be raised to allow your ship to pass. They are raised more than 1000 times a year.
  • During the celebrations to mark the 2012 Olympic Games being held in London a massive set of Olympic Rings was displayed on Tower Bridge.
  • Many people think that Tower Bridge is called London Bridge, when in fact they are two different crossings.
  • The Tower Bridge LEGO set, released in in 2010 as set 10214, contains more than 4000 pieces.

What next? Discover more London facts by following the link to our London resources page.

London Bridge Facts

London Bridge has actually been replaced numerous times during the history of the crossing. As a result, the term London Bridge doesn’t just refer to the current bridge over the River Thames joining the City of London with Southwark, it refers to all of the bridges throughout history that have spanned the Thames in this location.

Here are some facts about London Bridge:

  • The Romans built the first version of what was to become London Bridge. This was probably a pontoon style crossing and it linked the Roman roads called Stane Street and Watling Street with the Camulodnum settlement.
  • The bridge was made more permanent by the Romans in about 55 AD and, although the bridge was probably destroyed during the revolt led by Boudicca, it would have been rebuilt and the town of Londinium (London) grew around it.
  • After the Romans left Britain, the Saxons allowed the bridge to fall into disrepair as the River Thames formed the boundary between the lands of Mercia and those of Wessex.
  • William the Conqueror rebuilt the wooden bridge, but it was destroyed in 1091 in the ‘London Tornado’. It was also rebuilt and repaired by both William II and King Stephen.
  • The first stone version of London Bridge was started by Henry II in 1176. Henry II died before the bridge was completed. Work on London Bridge finally stopped in 1209, during the reign of King John. The cost of construction was massive.
  • Old London Bridge, as it is often referred to, was built upon 19 arches. It had a drawbridge at each end to allow tall ships to pass through it.
  • Many different types of building were built on the bridge. In the 14th century, there were over 100 shops on the bridge along with a public latrine.
  • There were over 200 buildings on London Bridge in the Tudor Period. Some were more than six stories high and many overhung the road in the centre of the bridge. The road was only four metres wide and had to deal with traffic going both ways. As a result, London Bridge was often congested.

London Bridge

  • The severed heads of traitors were impaled on spikes on a tower of the southern gatehouse in full-view of everyone who used London Bridge. The heads of William Wallace, Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell were all displayed there.
  • In 1722, in an attempt to improve the congestion on the bridge, the Lord Mayor decided that bridge users should keep to the left. Those heading into the City should use the west side of the bridge and those heading towards Sothwark should stick to the east side.
  • In 1758 all of the buildings on the bridge where taken down and a large central arch was constructed to make it easier for ships to pass under the bridge.
  • New London Bridge was designed by John Rennie and was constructed with five stone arches. It was located about 30 metres upstream of Old London Bridge and the older bridge was still used while the new one was being built.
  • New London Bridge was officially opened on 1st August 1831.
  • The new bridge was very heavily used. In 1896 it was estimated that more than 8000 pedestrians and nearly 1000 vehicles crossed the bridge every hour.
  • The bridge started to sink into the bed of the Thames at a rate of about an inch every eight years. The decision was made to remove it and replace it.
  • London Bridge was sold to Robert P McCulloch, a businessman from Missouri (United States). The bridge was reconstructed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
  • Lord Holford designed the current London Bridge. Building work started in 1967 and was completed in 1972.
  • The bridge is featured in the traditional nursery rhyme London Bridge is Falling Down.

What next? Find out some facts about Tower Bridge (which is often confused with London Bridge), or visit out London resources page.

River Thames: Facts and Information

River Thames Fact File

Length: 346 km (215 miles)

Source: Thames Head, Gloucestershire (England)

Mouth: Thames Estuary (North Sea)

Other Facts About The River Thames

  • The River Thames is the second longest river in the UK.
  • It is the most well-known of Britain’s rivers because it flows through central London. It also flows through (or really close by) some other important towns and cities in England, such as: Richmond, Kingston upon Thames, Windsor, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford and Reading.
  • The Thames is tidal when it flows through London.
  • More than 80 islands are contained in the River Thames. These include: the Isle of Sheppey, Canvey Island and Rose Isle.
  • The Celts referred to the Thames as Tamesas (or Tamesis), which meant ‘dark’.
  • About two thirds of London’s drinking water comes from the Thames.
  • The River Thames has several tributaries, including: the River Churn, Windrush, Cherwell, Thame, Loddon and Mole. Several rivers also join the Thames after it has become tidal. These include: the River Brent, Effra, Westbourne and Fleet.
  • The Thames becomes tidal below Teddington Lock. This is just over 50 miles from the Thames Estuary (and the river’s mouth).
  • The Thames is the home to many different types of creatures. Lots of birds can be found at different points along the course of the Thames from source to mouth (such as herons, moorhens, grebes, kingfishers and coots). The Thames supports lots of different fish species too, including: trout, chub, roach, pike and many more.
  • John Burns (a Battersea MP) famously described the Thames as ‘liquid history’. He meant that River Thames was responsible for supporting settlements upon its banks throught British history, from Neolithic times to today. The Thames has witnessed the birth of London and many of the key events in Britain’s history.
  • The Thames has been bridged more than 200 times and it has been tunneled under more than 15 times. Many of today’s bridges have been built on the site of much earlier crossing points.

The River Thames

Check out our other fact files on important rivers by clicking here or discover more London facts by visiting our London resources page.