This bridge was high tech 125 years ago today

Posted on by Mike Evans

Here’s Hammersmith Bridge, London, still in festive spirit one week after The Queen’s 60th Jubilee and on the day it celebrates its 125th birthday. It was still a relative newbie back in accession year, 1952, but represented the acme of bridge technology on 11 June 1887 when it was opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Designed by the famous civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazelgette, the suspension bridge is 700 feet long. It was built on the foundations of the earlier 1827 William Tierney Clark construction which had been the first suspension crossing of the River Thames. Hammersmith Bridge is notable for having been the target of IRA bombs no fewer than three times.

On the first occasion, in 1939, a passing hairdresser noticed a fizzing and sparking suitcase. He managed to throw it into the river just before the blast and was awarded the MBE for his bravery. There were further attempts in 1996 and 2000. After the 1996 incident the poor old bridge was closed for two years, causing dreadful traffic congestion in west London. The old girl is not up to the demands of modern traffic and requires careful nurturing, but she is now Grade II listed and is safe from modernisation.

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