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Vauxhall Bridge

Vauxhall Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 29, 2014 and May 9, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
A202 (Vauxhall Bridge Road) Over River Thames
Location
London: Greater London, England: United Kingdom
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1906 By Builder/Contractor: London County Council Labor and Engineer/Design: Maurice Fitzmaurice and Alexander Binnie

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
149 Feet (45.4 Meters)
Structure Length
809 Feet (246.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
50 Feet (15.24 Meters)
Spans
5 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

The Vauxhall Bridge is a riveted steel deck arch bridge. Visually, this bridge stands out from other bridges of this type because of its large and very detailed statues on the piers, the work of Alfred Drury RA and Frederick Pomeroy RA. It also stands out for its vibrant, contrasted paint layout that beautifully highlights and draws attention to the details and complexity of the bridge design.

See the detailed narrative for the official heritage listing below for more on this bridge.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade II*

Discussion:

List Entry Number: 1393011 and 1393012

Reasons for Designation
Vauxhall Bridge is designated for the following principal reasons:

* 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).

History
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details


TQ 3078 Vauxhall Bridge 963/5/10071 26-NOV-08

GV II* 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.

DESCRIPTION: Vauxhall 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 white trim.

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.

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