Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings
Listed At: Grade II*
List Entry Number: 1393011 and 1393012
Vauxhall Bridge is designated for the following principal
* It was designed by two chief engineers of the London
County Council, Sir Alexander Binnie and his successor Sir Maurice
Fitzmaurice and was opened in 1906.
* It has considerable
architectural significance for the work by sculptors Alfred Drury RA and
Frederick Pomeroy RA which adorns the piers. The work is not only unique
- no other British river crossing contains sculpture - but also of a
very high quality. * The design of the bridge, the work of two engineers
of considerable significance, is also of note and the piers carry a
superstructure of remarkable elegance given the breadth of the
carriageway above. * Furthermore, Vauxhall Bridge is sited near a group
of listed buildings and has group value with Lambeth Bridge of 1929
(also recommended, at Grade II).
Legacy Record - This
information may be included in the List Entry Details.
TQ 3078 Vauxhall Bridge 963/5/10071 26-NOV-08
Road bridge, 1904-6, by Sir Alexander Binnie and his successor Sir
Maurice Fitzmaurice, incorporating sculpture by Frederick Pomeroy RA and
Alfred Drury RA. Late C20 alterations.
Bridge is a five-span steel arch bridge with concrete piers and
abutments faced with granite. It has a length of 231.6m comprising five
spans, the central one 45.4m long and the intermediate and shore spans
43.9m and 39.6m respectively. The carriageway is 15.2m wide with a
double tram track in the centre and is capable of carrying four lanes of
road traffic. Flanking the carriageway are two footways. The
superstructure, constructed entirely of steel and iron, consists of five
two-pinned arches each formed from thirteen steel ribs bearing on steel
skewbacks built into the abutments or resting on the piers. The steel
plate decking, where it does not rest directly on the ribs or the
framing of the piers, is carried on longitudinal joists supported on
stanchions standing on the ribs. The foundations of the abutments and
piers consist of solid masses of Portland cement concrete cased in
sheet-piling. Although the bridge has had some recent alterations,
particularly to the parapets, it retains its visual and structural
integrity. The bridge's ornamental design is unique in that it is
decorated with female bronze figures on either side representing the
functions of local government, a theme no doubt determined by the LCC.
Looking downstream, Drury's figures represent Government, Education,
Fine Art and Science/Astronomy and facing upstream Pomeroy's represent
Agriculture (holding a shepherd's crook and a sheaf of corn),
Architecture (holding a model of St Paul's Cathedral), Engineering
(holding a very detailed steam engine and mallet) and Pottery (holding a
vase/pot). The bridge is painted in burgundy and orange, with a blue and
HISTORY: Vauxhall Bridge was designed by two chief
engineers of the London County Council, Sir Alexander Binnie (1839-1916)
and his successor Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice (1861-1924), incorporating
sculpture by Frederick Pomeroy RA (1856-1924) and Alfred Drury RA
(1856-1944). The contractors for the piers and foundations were Messrs.
Pethick Bros, and for the superstructure, Mr Charles Wall. Vauxhall
Bridge was opened in 1906 by the Prince of Wales who later became King
George V and cost £466,725. It was the first bridge to carry trams
across the Thames.
It is now thought that there has been a
bridge on, or very near, this site for as long as 3500 years. In 1998,
the Thames Archaeological Survey found the remains of an oak crossing
dating to around 1500 BC. This bridge may not have crossed the entire
Thames but could have been a walkway to a now submerged island.
The current Vauxhall Bridge replaced an earlier bridge, known as the
Regent's Bridge, completed in 1816 and the first iron bridge to span the
Thames. Consisting of nine 23.8m openings spanned by cast iron arch ribs
on masonry piers, this earlier bridge was built to a design by Sir S
Bentham that was modified by James Walker. Tolls were initially charged
in 1816, as the Vauxhall Bridge Company hoped to make a good income out
of people going to and from the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens; these tolls
were abolished in 1879. After the removal of the Old London Bridge in
1831, there was a serious alteration in the tidal flow of the river and
the water level lowered. Vauxhall Bridge was repaired several times but
after tidal scours caused severe damage to the bridge the repairs were
deemed too expensive. In 1879, ownership of the bridge was transferred
by the Company to the Metropolitan Board of Works, and in 1894 their
successors, the London County Council, decided to replace the bridge
because of increasing traffic and the need for improved approaches and
waterways. Demolition work started in 1898 and a temporary wooden bridge
was erected across the river. Although built under the authority of an
Act of 1895, construction of the new bridge did not begin until 1904.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: * Vauxhall Bridge has considerable
architectural significance for the work by sculptors Alfred Drury and
Frederick Pomeroy which adorns the piers. The work is not only unique -
no other British river crossing contains sculpture - but also of a very
high quality. * The design of the bridge, the work of two engineers of
considerable significance, is also of note and the piers carry a
superstructure of remarkable elegance given the breadth of the
carriageway above. * Furthermore, Vauxhall Bridge is sited near a number
of listed buildings: 46-57 Millbank (Grade II); a terrace of houses and
the Morpeth Arms public house (grade II) both of c.1843-45 and built as
part of Thomas Cubitt's Pimlico development. * It has group value with
Lambeth Bridge of 1929.
SOURCES: G Phillips, 'Thames Crossings'
(1981), 198-200/ EI Carlyle, 'Binnie, Sir Alexander Richardson
(1839-1917)', rev. Alan Muir Wood, Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (2004)/ EI Carlyle, 'Fitzmaurice, Sir Maurice (1861-1924)',
rev. RC Cox, ibid. Mark Stocker, 'Drury, (Edward) Alfred Briscoe
(1856-1944)', ibid. Mark Stocker, 'Pomeroy, Frederick William
(1856-1924)', ibid. WC Copperthwaite, `Vauxhall Bridge' in 'Inst. of
Civil Engineers Proceedings' (1907)/ S Croad, London's Bridges (1983).
British Bridges: An Illustrated Technical and Historical Record (London,
Public Works, Roads and Transport Congress, 1933), 190-91. The course of
construction was followed by the 'Engineer' between 1903 and 1907.