Thursday, 11 April 2019

Hammersmith Bridge: an Opportunity



So Hammersmith Bridge is now closed to road traffic after being found to have critical faults in one of Hammersmith and Fulham council’s weekly inspections.  There is, apparently, a plan for repair, but due to the government’s austerity budget cuts Transport for London says it cannot finance the necessary work.  In which case, the bridge must stay closed to traffic indefinitely.


This situation is surely opportunity as well as crisis.  Let’s think not of repairing but replacing what William Guest in News from Nowhere refers to as that ‘ugly suspension bridge’.  The new structure won’t be Boris Johnson’s vanity ‘garden bridge’, which wasted some £43 million of taxpayers’ money in planning costs, but rather the utopian bridge that Morris himself describes: ‘of stone arches, splendidly solid, and as graceful as they were strong; high enough also to let ordinary river traffic through easily.  Over the parapet showed quaint and fanciful little buildings, which I supposed to be booths or shops, beset with painted and gilded vanes and spirelets’.  So: no to Bazalgette, yes to utopia.  And even in the non-utopian meantime, what a delight to be able to walk or cycle across Hammersmith Bridge without the noise and air pollution of all that disgusting road traffic!



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