Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday November 19 2007

Another day at BrianMicklethwait.com, another bridge in another thin picture:

image

This time it’s the original Westminster Bridge, as painted by Canaletto in 1746.  Apparently it wasn’t finished until 1750, so that’s it while still being built.

Original fat version here.  Excellent close-up painting of one arch here.  It wasn’t very satisfactory, and was replaced with the current version of Westminster Bridge in 1862.

Here is another even thinner picture of the old bridge:

image

I found that here, which is the best www place about the history of the old Westminster Bridge that I could quickly find.  Lots more nice pictures of the bridge there.

In 1721 there was apparently a petition against the building of Westminster Bridge, from the then separate City of London, which is down river and was for many centuries blessed with the only bridge across the Thames in all of what is now London.  The new bridge, said the London petitioners, would:

… take their Meat out of their Mouth, by drawing off their supply of Provisions, and pick up their Money out of their Pockets, by enabling the Inhabitants of Westminster to Trade at less Expenses … In short, it will make Westminster a fine City, and London a Desert.

The Fixed Quantity of River Crossings Fallacy.

UPDATE (see comment 3 from Michael J):

image

Some would say that Westminster today is a fine city, and London is a desert. It certainly feels that way on a Sunday afternoon.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 19 November 2007

While on bridges over the Thames and great London landmarks that no longer are or never were, when it was felt necessary to replace the medieval London Bridge in the late eighteenth / early ninetheenth centuries, Thomas Telford proposed a single iron arch as the replacement. (Picture <a href="http://www.ice.org.uk/images/ice_image_gallery/London-bridge-proposal001.jpg">here. The original Westminster bridge is in the background). Ultimately, the rather nondescript five arch bridge that is now in Arizona was built, and the even more nondescript current bridge was built in the 1970s.

From the transport nerd’s point of view, this is all a shame, because Telford’s bridge would have been breathtaking. And I am sure it still would be.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 19 November 2007

Well, yes, but you can’t blame Westminster Bridge for that.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 November 2007

Our comments crossed.  My one above was about Michael’s first.

As to that Telford proposal, very fine and well worth looking at.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 19 November 2007

I can picture a site/blog/depository of unbuilt architectural/engineering marvels that must be pretty interesting if sad place. Seem to recall there was some Russian site dedicated to Constructivists and their proposed projects, plans and perspectives included - it was truly spectacular (if sometimes terrifying, in true statist/monumental fashion).
Even in my own 15-yr on the job I have seen many beautiful ideas got slashed (due to budget constrains, crazy conflicting sub-client requirements, etc etc) and replaced by more conventional to satisfy all sides...Yes, M, for shame.

Posted by Tat on 19 November 2007
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