05 May 2009

Thames Crossings 21: Blackfriars Bridge

Downriver from Waterloo Bridge is Blackfriars Bridge. It dates from 1869 (it's been widened since) and doesn't quite offer the views that Waterloo Bridge does. (Though the view of Blackfriars from Waterloo Bridge (right) can be sensational.)

However, on its downriver side there's the very odd sight of several huge pillars sticking up out the water, like plinths for some as yet undecided statues. They're the supports for the old Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which was removed in 1985. There's a railway bridge in use just beyond them.

Blackfriars is a fast road bridge that used to have a good wide mandatory cycle lane, but it's been chopped down for recent roadworks and is now a lethal funnel at the north end. To me the bridge is OK but a bit boring and dutiful, like a Bank Holiday drink with your cousin's husband.

From here on the north side it's messy, fast, unpleasant Thames St, unless you can get your bike down on to the riverside footpath just upstream of Blackfriars. On the south side join the promenade via the obvious-looking down-and-bank of Southwark St and Hopton St; you have a splendid riverside cycle and the cityscape view from the pub, the Founder's Arms, is something special. It's even better from the bar up at the top of Tate Modern, a fabulous place for a not-expensive drink at dusk with its sweeping waterside views. Either way, the Millennium Bridge is about a quarter of a mile away.


  1. 'down-and-bank'?
    FWIW, Blackfriars rail station is being extended the length of the bridge and will have an entry on the south bank (part of Thameslink 2xxx) - it might then in theory be a cycle bridge - if you have a train ticket, push your bike along the platform etc.

  2. I knew this blog was going to be a rod for my own bank.

    Yes, it'll be interesting to see what happens when they extend Blackfriars. It's said that the lone pillars will be used as part of the supports.

    Perhaps in the meantime we could turn it into a Gormleyesque Fourth-Plinth-style artwork and display ourselves for an hour at a time on top of them.

    Or maybe parachute in some anchorites to spend a few Blaine-type months in lone contemplation like Simon of Stylites et al? That'd be a tourist attraction.

  3. What news of the Fourth Plinth? will you be doing Real Puncture Repairs?

  4. Haven't heard anything, so I assume my spot has gone on a regional quota to someone from Middlesbrough reciting poetry naked. Bah.