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.