Waterloo Bridge, London

Named in honor of Wellington’s victory in the pivotal battle in 1815, Waterloo Bridge, London spans a strategic bend in the River Thames. The original granite bridge, designed by John Rennie in 1810, was initially to be known as the Strand Bridge. It opened as a toll bridge in 1817 two years after the Allied victory over Napoleon. By the end of the 19th century, problems were discovered with the bridge’s supporting piers. This bridge was replaced in the 1940s with the current span that graces the location today. Stones from the original bridge were sent to various locations throughout the British Empire to foster a connection between the commonwealth nations and Britain.Waterloo Bridge London England

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed and constructed the new bridge with Portland stone quarried in the southwest of England. The stone covers the internal steel structure and self-cleans whenever it rains. To avoid the erosion of rock and sediment that destabilized the support piers of the first structure, the current pillars are equipped with jacks that adjust the level of the structure. From the span, visitors have an exceptional ground level view of several popular sites in London. These include Canary Wharf, Westminster, the South Bank and the London Eye.

The bridge has captured the imagination and public spotlight since its inception. The original span earned the reputation as a place for committing suicide. This act was referenced in The Bridge of Sighs, an 1844 poem by Thomas Hood. The structure was also the subject of works by artists John Constable and Claude Monet. The current span is the setting for a 1930 play by Robert Sherwood called Waterloo Bridge. It is the story of a soldier who falls in love with a woman whom he meets on the bridge. The play is the basis for three feature films of the same name. The bridge also played a part in the intrigue of the Cold War. Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated on the bridge by a pellet gun umbrella. The structure also serves as the setting for a scene in the BBC series Sherlock. Because it was constructed during the Second World War, it is believed that a large number of women were among the laborers who built the bridge. In honor of this distinction, the span is often referred to as “the ladies bridge.”


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