Essential Architecture-  London

Blackfriars Bridge

architect

Joseph Cubitt (stone carvings of water birds by sculptor John Birnie Philip).

location

over the Thames, London (near the Tate Modern art gallery and the Oxo Tower).

date

1869, widened between 1907–10

style

Romanesque Revival details

construction

five wrought iron arches

type

Bridge
 
  Blackfriars Bridge, seen from Waterloo Bridge. Beyond there is a glimpse of the green-edged Southwark Bridge. In the hazy distance are the towers of Canary Wharf, dominated by the pyramidal-topped tower of One Canada Square
 
 

  Blackfriars Railway Bridge,James Dredge, 1897
 
  Blackfriars Railway Bridge 1864 seen over the opening of the road bridge in 1869
 
  Blackfriars Railway Bridge 1886, seen over Blackfriars Road Bridge
  Blackfriars’ Bridge 1764
 
   
 
  1764: First Blackfriars’ Bridge under construction –
 
  BlackFriars Bridge. Jan. 18th 1797. From the West.
 
  Blackfriars’ from Southwark Bridge, Thomas Shotter Boys - London as it is (1842)
   
Blackfriars Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames in London, between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge carrying the A201 road The north end is near the Inns of Court, and Temple Church, along with Blackfriars station. The south end is near the Tate Modern art gallery and the Oxo Tower.

The first fixed crossing at Blackfriars was a 995-foot (303 m) long toll bridge designed in an Italianate style by Robert Mylne and constructed with nine semi-elliptical arches of Portland stone. Beating designs by John Gwynn and George Dance, it took nine years to build, opening to the public in 1769. It was the third bridge across the Thames in the then built-up area of London, supplementing the ancient London Bridge and Westminster Bridge, which dated from a generation earlier. It was originally named William Pitt Bridge (after the Prime Minister William Pitt) but was soon renamed after Blackfriars Monastery, a Dominican priory which once stood nearby.

The current bridge was completed in 1869 and consists of five wrought iron arches built to a design by Joseph Cubitt. It is owned and maintained by Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the Corporation of London. Due to the volume of traffic over the bridge, it was widened between 1907–10, from 70 feet (21 m) to its present 105 feet (32 m).

The bridge became internationally notorious in 1982, when the Italian banker Roberto Calvi was found hanged below one of its arches in what was originally believed to be a suicide, but is now officially regarded as a murder.

On the piers of the bridge are stone carvings of water birds by sculptor John Birnie Philip. On the East (downstream) side (ie: the side closest to the Thames Estuary and North Sea), the carvings show marine life and seabirds; those on the West (upstream) side show freshwater birds - reflecting the role of Blackfriars as the tidal turning point.

On the north side of the bridge is a statue of Queen Victoria to whom the bridge was dedicated.

The bridge gave its name to Blackfriars Bridge railway station which opened in 1864 before closing to passengers in 1885 following the opening of what is today the main Blackfriars station. Blackfriars Bridge railway station continued as a goods stop until 1964 when it was completly demolished, and much of it redeveloped into offices

Popular culture
Blackfriars Bridge was named as the home of an unknown order of monks who held the key to an angelic prison in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

Blackfriars Bridge is featured in the lyrics of the song, The Resurrectionist, by the Pet Shop Boys. The song is about the work of body-snatching resurrectionists operating in London in the 1830s.

One of the Bailey Bridges over the Rhine River in 1945 was named Blackfriars Bridge by the Royal Engineers that built it.

Blackfriars Bridge is referenced in L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack: Being An Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy. In the beginning of the story, Jacky is an orphan in early 19th-century London who lives with her orphan gang under Blackfriars Bridge.

Blackfriars Bridge is made mention of in Harold Pinter's play The Homecoming. The scene has the character, Max, suggesting that his brother, Sam, would have sex for a few pennies on this bridge.




Map of proposed Blackfriars' Railway Bridge, 1862



links

Special thanks to http://thames.me.uk/index.htm
www.essential-architecture.com