Heritage Locations

Hammersmith Bridge, London

The second suspension bridge on the site, built in 1887, it is a Grade II* listed structure.


Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

London, SW13 9DW


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The construction of a bridge was first sanctioned by an Act of Parliament in 1824 and work on site began the following year. It was the Thames' first suspension bridge and was designed by William Tierney Clark, who also designed Marlow Bridge.

By the 1870s Hammersmith Bridge was not strong enough to support the weight of heavy traffic and the owners were alarmed in 1870 when 11,000-12,000 people crowded onto the bridge to watch the University Boat Race. In 1884 a temporary bridge was put up to allow a more limited cross-river traffic while a replacement was constructed.

The current suspension bridge was designed by noted civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette and rests on the same pier foundations constructed for Tierney Clark's structure. The new bridge was built by Dixon, Appleby & Thorne. It was opened by the Prince of Wales on 11 June 1887. With much of the supporting structure built of wrought iron, it is 700 feet (210 m) long and 43 feet (13 m) wide and cost £82,117 to build.

Hammersmith Bridge has long suffered structural problems and has been closed for lengthy periods on several occasions, due to the weight and volume of road traffic now common in inner London. The bridge was refurbished in 1973 with replacement steel trusses, improvements to the mid-span hangers and new deck expansion joints. New deck timbers were installed and surfacing was changed from wooden blocks to coated plywood panels. These panels were subsequently replaced in 1987.

In 1984 the Barnes-side tower bearings failed under a heavy load and had to be replaced.

In February 1997 the bridge was closed to all traffic except buses, bicycles, motorcycles, emergency vehicles and pedestrians to allow further essential repair works. Structural elements of the bridge had been found to be corroded or worn, in particular cross girders and deck surfacing, as well as some areas of masonry.

The bridge re-opened in July 1998 to all road users, subject to a 7.5-long-ton (7.6 t) weight restriction and with a priority measure in place for buses.

As part of the renovations following a 2000 IRA bombing, the bridge was repainted in the original colour scheme of 1887, and new lighting was installed.


Burr, William Hubert, A Course on the Stresses in Bridge and Roof Trusses, Arched Ribs and Suspension Bridges (1886), Kessinger Publishing, ISBN-10: 1104171740 (2009)

Drewry, C.S.,
A Memoir of Suspension Bridges: Comprising a History of their Origin, BiblioBazaar, ISBN -10 05547 25657 (2008)

Halliday, Stephen. The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Metropolis. The History Press Ltd. ISBN -10 07509 25809. (2001)

Melan, Josef,
Theory of Arches and Suspension Bridges (1913, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN-10: 1437437125 (2008)

Minchinton, W.,
A Guide to Industrial Archaeology sites in Britain, Granada ASIN: B0020ZCPRY (1984)

Peters, Tom,
Transitions in Engineering: Guillaume Henri Dufour and the Early 19th Century Cable Suspension Bridges, Birkhauser, ISBN-10: 3764319291 (1987)

Phillips, G. Thames Crossings: Bridges, Tunnels and Ferries. D & C. ISBN-10 07153 82020. (1981)

Steinman, David,
A Practical Treatise on Suspension Bridges: Their Design, Construction and Erection (1922), Kessinger Publishing, ISBN-10: 1436606446 (2008)

Steinman, David,
Suspension Bridges and Cantilevers, BiblioBazaar, ISBN-10: 0559673132 (2008)

Opening Times:
Open at all times to pedestrians except during the University Boat Race.

How To Find:
By road: The bridge is crossed by the A306 between Hammersmith and Barnes. It is a short walk from Hammersmith Underground Station, and is crossed by buses.

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