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.
3 Railway station
4 In popular culture
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Blackfriars Bridge with
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral behind
The first fixed crossing at Blackfriars was a 995 feet (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, which dated from several centuries earlier, and
Westminster Bridge. It was originally named "William Pitt Bridge"
(after the Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder) as a dedication, but
its informal name relating to the precinct within the City named after
the Blackfriars Monastery, a Dominican priory which once stood nearby,
was generally adopted. It was later made toll free.
City of London Corporation
City of London Corporation was responsible for promoting it and
the location between the other two bridges was chosen because it was
realised that the disused wharfage of the lower
River Fleet from the
Thames to what became
Ludgate Circus would allow access into the north
bank without unduly disrupting the neighbourhood; hence its name of
New Bridge Street. The Fleet can be seen discharging into the Thames
at its north side. By taking an access road from its southern landing
to a junction with the routes created to simplify passage between
those bridges to its east and west to the south it would also add to
those improvements. This created the junction at St George's Circus
Westminster Bridge Road,
Borough Road and the later named
Blackfriars Road which crossed the largely open parish of Christchurch
Surrey. The continuation to the south at the major junction at
Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle is therefore named London Road.
Although it was built of Portland stone the workmanship was very
faulty. Between 1833 and 1840 extensive repairs were necessary, and a
good deal of patching-up was done, until at last it was decided to
build a new bridge on the same site and this coincided with the
creation of the Thames Embankment's junction with the new Queen
Victoria Street required a major reconfiguration. The original
Blackfriars Bridge was demolished in 1860, P.A. Thom & Company won
with the lowest tender and placed an order with Lloyds, Foster and
Company for the necessary ironwork. Due to P.A. Thom's problems in
finding solid foundations, Lloyds, Fosters & Company went into
liquidation having lost £250,000 on the project. The metalwork was
built by The Patent Shaft and Axletree Company, Wednesbury, following
their takeover of Lloyds, Foster and Company.
The present bridge which on 6 November 1869 was opened by Queen
Victoria is 923 feet (281 m) long, consisting of five wrought
iron arches built to a design by Joseph Cubitt. Cubitt also
designed the adjacent rail bridge (now demolished) and it was a
condition that the spans and piers of the two bridges be aligned. Like
its predecessor it is owned and maintained by the Bridge House
Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London
London Bridge the full length and its southern end
is within the City's borders and not in the adjoining borough of
Southwark. 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 June 1982, when the
body of Roberto Calvi, a former chairman of Italy's largest private
bank, was found hanging from one of its arches with five bricks and
around $14,000 in three different currencies in his pockets. Calvi's
death was initially treated as suicide, but he was on the run from
Italy accused of embezzlement and in 2002 forensic experts concluded
that he had been murdered by the Mafia, to whom he was indebted. In
2005, five suspected members of the Mafia were tried in a Rome court
for Calvi's murder, but all were acquitted in June 2007 for lack of
On the piers of the bridge are stone carvings of water birds by
sculptor John Birnie Philip. On the East (downstream) side (i.e. the
side closer 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
Temperance, a statue atop a drinking water fountain at the north end
of Blackfriars Bridge.
On the north side of the bridge is a statue of
Queen Victoria (funded
by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam), to whom the bridge was dedicated.
The ends of the bridge are shaped like a pulpit in a reference to
The bridge gave its name to
Blackfriars Bridge railway station
Blackfriars Bridge railway station on the
southern bank which opened in 1864 before closing to passengers in
1885 following the opening of what is today the main Blackfriars
Blackfriars Bridge station continued as a goods stop until
1964 when it was completely demolished, and much of it redeveloped
River Fleet empties into the Thames under the north end of
Blackfriars Bridge. The structure was given Grade II listed status in
In popular culture
In 1774 the new bridge was mentioned in a popular song in Charles
Dibdin's opera The Waterman, referring to the boatmen who used to
carry fashionable folks to
Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens.
"And did you not hear of the jolly young waterman,
Blackfriars Bridge used for to ply?
And he feathered his oars with such skill and dexterity,
Winning each heart and delighting each eye."
Blackfriars Bridge viewed from upstream, looking south
Blackfriars Bridge at night
Bailey Bridge constructed over the River
Rhine at Rees, Germany, in
1945 by the Royal Canadian Engineers (R.C.E.) was named "Blackfriars
Bridge", and, at 558 m (1814 ft) including the ramps at each end, was
the longest Bailey bridge then constructed.
In Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, "Blackfriars Bridge" was named as the
home of an unknown order of monks who held the key to an angelic
prison. The bridge is also featured in the lyrics of the songs "The
Resurrectionist" by the Pet Shop Boys, and "Cold Bread" by Johnny
Flynn & The Sussex Wit. In Louis A. Meyer's Bloody Jack: Being An
Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy,
Jacky is introduced as an orphan in early 19th-century London who
lives with her orphan gang under Blackfriars Bridge. The bridge is
mentioned in Harold Pinter's play The Homecoming when the character
Max suggests that his brother, Sam, would have sex for a few pennies
here. The bridge also appears during the opening sequence of the film
Happy-Go-Lucky, where the main character rides across it on a bicycle.
In the film The Avengers, the bridge is destroyed by a tornado.
The bridge is also cited in several Italian songs referring to the
death of Roberto Calvi: "Via Italia" by Gang and "Nostra signora dei
depistati" by Modena City Ramblers.
The bridge was featured in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix (2007). The Order of the Phoenix passes under it on their
flight from number four, Privet Drive to Grimmauld Place.
In Terry Gilliam's
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Heath
Ledger's character Tony is found hanging under the Blackfriars Bridge,
Terry Gilliam as "an homage to Roberto Calvi".
In Cassandra Clare's book series "The Infernal Devices", Tessa Gray
and Jem Carstairs meet at the bridge every year from 1875 to 2008.
They also get married here.
List of crossings of the River Thames
List of bridges in London
^ "The Lloyds of Wednesbury". Archived from the original on 21 January
2016. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
^ "Patent Shaft Steel Works Ltd, Brunswick, Monway and Old Park Works,
Wednesbury". Retrieved 17 October 2017.
^ "The Queen's Visit to the City: Opening of
Blackfriars Bridge and
Holborn Viaduct". The Standard. London. 1869-11-08.
^ "Blackfriars Bridge". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved
^ "New tests "say Calvi was murdered"". BBC News. 2002-04-19.
^ "1982: 'God's banker' found hanged". BBC News. 19 June 1982.
^ Ward-Jackson, Philip (2003). Public sculpture of the city of London.
Liverpool University Press. p. 520.
^ "11 Secret Features Of Famous London Landmarks". Londonist. 20
October 2015. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
^ Historic England. "Details from image database (199323)". Images of
England. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
^ C. Dibdin, The Waterman; or, The First of August: A Ballad Opera, in
Two Acts (T. Becket, London 1774).
Blackfriars Bridge - Longest
Bailey Bridge in the World". Canadian
Military Engineers Association. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
^ The Dr Parnassus Press Conference at Cannes – Part 2, edited by
The many difficulties encountered and innovations used in building the
Blackfriars Bridge 1759–69 are described in:
Ted Ruddock Arch bridges and their builders, 1735–85 (1979 reprinted
2009) ISBN 978-0-521-09021-6, and
Robert Ward The man who buried Nelson, the surprising life of Robert
Mylne (2007) ISBN 978-0-7524-3922-8
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blackfriars Bridge.
Blackfriars Bridge at Structurae
Crossings of the River Thames
Waterloo & City line tunnel
Blackfriars Railway Bridge
Bridges of Central London (west to east)
Hungerford and Golden Jubilee
Cannon Street Railway
Crossings of the River Thames