Hammersmith Bridge

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Hammersmith Bridge, built in 1887, is one of the world's oldest suspension bridges which is why it is also one of Britain's most expensive to repair. It is a Grade II* listed structure made out of wood and wrought iron with the suspension held in place by cast iron pedestals. It is part of Britain’s engineering heritage and a national landmark.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F) has been told by the government to pay an unprecedented 33% of the original estimated £141m to £163m repair bill which would normally have been paid in large part by Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport (DfT). We have made it clear we can only raise that amount of money via a road user charge or toll.

The bridge is open to pedestrians, dismounted cyclists and river traffic. 

Included on this page

Hammersmith Bridge gets new steel supports to help stabilise

Steel support frames to stabilise the 135-year-old Hammersmith Bridge have begun to be installed.

The bespoke steel frames are being fitted by Hammersmith & Fulham’s world-leading experts on the saddles where the bridge’s chains are attached.

Watch a video of the installation.

To make the frames, the steel was imported in 29 giant sheets and then cut into 1,220 bespoke pieces, before being welded together in a Middlesbrough factory. The new steel frames were also painted off-site in the Grade II* listed structure’s original green colour.

Once the steel frames are fitted, the engineers will jack up the saddles and replace the corroded seized bearings. This marks the final phase of the stabilisation works as we work to restore Hammersmith Bridge to its Victorian splendour.

Following that, engineers will carry out repair work to the bridge’s surface and decking, before looking to reopen the main carriageway to cyclists.

Read the full story: Hammersmith Bridge gets new steel supports to help stabilise.

H&F seeks approval for temporary truss Hammersmith Bridge solution

World-leading engineers working to restore Hammersmith Bridge are to seek planning permission for the innovative double-decker temporary truss solution.

The proposal from architect and engineering firm Foster + Partners and bridge engineers COWI has emerged as Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s preferred option for the full repair of the bridge and its re-opening to motor vehicles. The decision to progress to planning permission was among a £5million package of measures agreed by H&F’s Cabinet on 10 October.

If approved, it would see a temporary double-decker crossing placed within the existing structure of Grade II*-listed Hammersmith Bridge and supported by the bridge’s foundations. This would enable the bridge to reopen to motorists earlier than the existing Transport for London plan.

Elements of the bridge that need repair, including the decking, would be lifted away using the temporary bridge as a works platform and transported by barges to an off-site facility for safer and easier repair and restoration.

Cllr Sharon Holder, H&F Cabinet Member for Public Realm, said: “Once again to expedite the full restoration works at pace, we will fund in good faith and at risk the £5m rather than wait for the Department for Transport and TfL’s governance processes to sign off on their one-third shares. We, of course, anticipate that their shares will be subsequently reimbursed.”

Read the full story: H&F seeks approval for temporary truss Hammersmith Bridge solution.

Pedestals reinforced with the unique concrete mix

Critical work to stabilise the 135-year-old Hammersmith Bridge was successfully completed at the end of October when engineers strengthened all four pedestals using bespoke concrete.

The bridge’s team of world leading engineers had meticulously planned, trialled and designed the stabilisation programme off-site, using a replica pedestal.

Read the full story:  A concrete solution for Hammersmith Bridge stabilisation.

How engineers kept the bridge cool and open during heatwave

Engineers worked around the clock to keep the 135-year-old Hammersmith Bridge open during the extreme hot spell.

Read the full story: Keeping Hammersmith Bridge cool – and open – in the heatwave.

Phase 1 stabilisation programme

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s world-leading engineers began work on-site on 28 February 2022 on the Phase 1 stabilisation as part of the overall Hammersmith Bridge Restoration Project.

Our engineers Mott MacDonald developed the alternative £8.9m stabilisation programme for the bridge which will save local and national taxpayers £21m compared to the previous Transport for London (TfL) proposal.

Crucially, these works have reduced the need for temporary closures for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic, and support residents on both sides of the river.

The first step was to stabilise the micro-fractures in the cast iron pedestals which bear the bridge’s weight. 

Engineers created a replica of a fractured pedestal which was tested off-site to allow engineers to trial different approaches.

H&F Council’s specialist engineers removed all the casings of the four corner cast-iron pedestals. This work was undertaken by our contractor FM Conway and their sub-contractors, Freyssinet Ltd and Taziker Industrial Ltd.

Once the four casings have been removed, the contractor will fill the pedestals with fiber-reinforced concrete, install steel frames around them and jack up elements of the structure to replace the Victorian roller bearings which have been seized.

The Mott MacDonald solution involves replacing the current bearings with giant rubber ones reinforced with steel plates which allow pressure to be applied equally to all four corners whilst protecting the vulnerable 135-year-old cast-iron structure.

The casing removals were undertaken using cranes positioned on the carriageway and hydraulic jacks will be used to lift the bridge off the pedestals to allow replacement of the seized roller bearings.

We expect the stabilisation work to finish towards the spring of 2023 following delays procuring steel from Ukraine. That will pave the way for work on the full Phase 2 strengthening and restoration to commence which will see the bridge reopened to cars, buses and motorcyclists.

Ramps and footpaths

To keep bridge users safe and allow the engineers access to the site, the entry to the bridge’s footpath has been shifted further along and the main carriageway has been closed.

The temporary scaffolding allows pedestrians and dismounted cyclists to move easily and safely across the bridge away from the works.

Temperature control system

Keeping the temperature of the bridge constant is an important part of making sure the existing cracks do not worsen prior to repair. Extreme temperatures cause stress on the cast-iron structure.

H&F’s pioneering temperature control system, which allowed the bridge to re-open to pedestrians and cyclists in the summer of 2021, continues to regulate a constant temperature in all seasons.

Bidders line up for full restoration project

On 28 June 2022 H&F met representatives of 28 potential bidders who have expressed interest in carrying out the full strengthening and restoration works for Hammersmith Bridge.

This came after the H&F published a prior information notice regarding the deal to cover the £80m to £130m Phase 2 programme to restore the 135-year-old structure. Formal procurement is expected to be launched in January 2023.

H&F is now waiting for the DfT and TfL to agree on a Memorandum of Understanding so all parties are signed up to funding the project and we can continue to proceed at pace towards the bridge reopening to cars and buses.

Hammersmith Bridge Restoration Project launched

The Hammersmith Bridge Restoration Project was officially launched on 22 March 2022 by:

  • H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan
  • Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Representatives from Transport for London (TfL)
  • Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council.
Representatives from the organisations involved in restoring Hammersmith Bridge
Image caption: Left to right: Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan and Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.
Baroness Vere and Cllr Steve Cowan being shown plans to fix a part of the bridge

Council approves £3.5m for Phase 2 restoration

On 7 March 2022, H&F Council approved a further capital spend of £3.5million to progress Phase 2 works to strengthen and restore Hammersmith Bridge and reopen it to motor vehicles. These works include concept design, traffic modelling, crowd loading and geotechnical surveys.

To expedite the full programme at speed, H&F again decided to fund the works upfront rather than wait for the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) to sign-off on their governance processes. It is anticipated that H&F will be subsequently reimbursed by DfT and TfL for their one-third shares of the cost.

The work includes the essential concept design on the alternative proposal developed by architects and engineers Foster + Partners and specialist bridge engineers COWI.

This project, which is being considered alongside the existing TfL plan, could see a temporary double-decker crossing installed using the existing bridge foundations. It may see the bridge opening to motor vehicles and buses two years earlier than proposed previously and at a lower cost to taxpayers.

New rules to keep bridge safe for users during engineering works

Engineering works began on 28 February 2022 to ensure the Grade II* listed bridge remains permanently open to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic. They are expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

To enable the works to be undertaken safely, the main carriageway section of the bridge is now closed off. The bridge continues to be open to pedestrians, however cyclists and e-scooter users no longer have access over the main deck and need to push their bikes and e-scooters across the bridge. Instead, they have to dismount and share the footways with pedestrians.

Additionally, to ensure the safety of bridge users, a one-way system has been introduced for all bridge users. These changes are prominently sign-posted at the entrances to the bridge. Safety marshals are available onsite to help.

All three e-scooter operators, Tier, Dott and Lime, have re-programmed their e-scooters to prevent normal riding on the bridge. However, the e-scooters will remain ‘active’, so users are able to push them across the bridge as advised.

Alternatively, additional temporary bays have been located at either end of the bridge, so users can leave their e-scooters, walk over the bridge, and then re-hire a new e-scooter if they wish.

New stabilisation plan agreed to save £21m

Our engineers have developed an alternative £8.9m stabilisation programme for the bridge which will save local and national taxpayers £21m compared to the previous Transport for London (TfL) proposal.

In December 2021, to repair the bridge at speed, H&F decided to fund the £8.9m Stabilisation Works upfront rather than wait for the Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL to sign off on their governance processes. This enabled works to start several months early. On 22 March 2022, the DfT confirmed its contribution, and TfL shortly after.

H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said: “We don’t want to lose a single day in delivering the full stabilisation of the bridge to ensure residents on both sides of the river no longer have to deal with closures or the threat of closures.

“Whilst putting the safety of the public first, we believe that the importance of maintaining pace and progress, the real savings achieved by the deployment of the preferred stabilisation works option and the current vulnerability of Hammersmith Bridge demands rapid action.”

The re-opening in July 2021

The bridge reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on 17 July 2021 following the expert advice from the CCSO safety engineers.

Announcing the move, H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said: “The potential for catastrophic collapse of this 134-year-old suspension structure was very real. We’ve employed the best engineers from around the world who advised we had to close the bridge last summer. We will always put the safety of the public first.

“Ever since, I have been determined to re-open the bridge as soon as it was safely possible. The introduction of the temperature control system, and the results of our extensive engineering investigations, now mean that the bridge can be opened for use by pedestrians, cyclists and to river traffic.”

VIDEO: Cllr Stephen Cowan reflects on the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge

If this video doesn't display, please enable statistics cookies or watch it on YouTube: Cllr Stephen Cowan reflects on the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge.

Image caption: CGI of the proposed temporary double-decker crossing on Hammersmith Bridge

H&F, Foster + Partners/COWI propose temporary double-decker crossing 

An innovative proposal from world-leading engineers could see Hammersmith Bridge re-opened three years earlier than planned, with a cost saving of £40m.

The double-decker solution from globally renowned architects and engineers Foster + Partners and specialist bridge engineers COWI would see a temporary truss laid over the existing carriageway allowing cars and buses to cross.

  • Read more on the proposed temporary double-decker crossing plans

    The plan was developed after the bridge’s full closure in August 2020. H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan approached the private sector to seek radical solutions. In response, property developer Sir John Ritblat asked Foster + Partners and COWI to develop proposals.

    The temporary truss would enable the current structure to be renovated off-site, potentially providing a quicker and more cost-effective full restoration solution.

    A detailed feasibility study commissioned by H&F has now confirmed that the existing foundations could support the extra load of the temporary truss and that the significant savings could be made.

    Elements of the bridge that need repair, including the decking, would be lifted away using the temporary bridge as a works platform and transported by barges to an off-site facility for safe repair and restoration.

    Historic England, which has been already been involved in discussions about the plan, will need to approve the works which enable the bridge to be restored to its original Victorian splendour with fewer constraints.

The closure and re-opening of Hammersmith Bridge

Before the bridge was partially reopened on 17 July 2021, the 134-year-old Grade II*-listed Hammersmith Bridge had been fully closed from 13 August 2020 to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic for safety reasons.

Black and white photo of a horse and cart crossing Hammersmith Bridge
Image caption: A horse and cart with passengers crossing Hammersmith Bridge during the Victorian era

In the preceding hours new sensors positioned throughout the suspension structure alerted engineers to a rapid and sudden increase in the size of dangerous micro-fractures in the cast iron pedestals that hold the suspension system in place.

The heatwave was the most likely cause. The micro-fractures were first discovered in 2019 using the latest technology. Cast iron is brittle and can shatter. The micro-fractures therefore posed the serious risk that the bridge could suddenly, and with little warning, collapse into the Thames.

Up until 10 April 2019, Hammersmith Bridge carried 22,000 motor vehicles a day. Up until 13 August 2020, hundreds of boats travelled underneath it and 16,000 pedestrians and cyclists travelled across it each day.

How did this happen?

Engineers employed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council discovered that the microfractures are a consequence of decades of unchecked corrosion that is riddled throughout the suspension structure.

Hammersmith Bridge at dusk with electric lighting switched on
Image caption: Hammersmith Bridge at dusk

These very serious problems only began to be discovered from 2015 onwards because in 2014, the current administration commissioned a Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review – the first in the bridge’s history. Prior to that, only £250,000 had been spent touching up the decking and other minor works.

The council and Transport for London employed some of the best engineers in the world and tasked them with fully diagnosing all the problems with Hammersmith Bridge and developing a plan to make it safe and fit for purpose. The engineers have huge experience including working on the Golden Gate Bridge in California and on oil rigs in the North Sea.

‘Shovel-ready’ plans to fix the bridge

The engineers had previously advised that it would cost £46m to stabilise Hammersmith Bridge and make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic; up to £141m to fully restore the bridge so it can be reopened to buses and motor vehicles; and £163m if we wished to reduce the three-year timescale by as much as 12 months.

No council has that sort of money available. Over the last 18 months, TfL has made a series of bids to government for funding of the Hammersmith Bridge works which have all be rejected. On 24 August 2020, the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Cllr Stephen Cowan and Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister asking for the government’s financial support.

Original Bazalgette architectural drawing showing sections of Hammersmith Bridge
Image caption: Bazalgette original architectural drawing of the north west pedestal illustrating the location of micro-fractures

The Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce

Following the letter to the Prime Minister, on 9 September 2020 the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced he was setting up a government taskforce, which would take over the project and work up solutions. Members of the taskforce include Cllr Cowan, the Deputy London Mayor for Transport for London, the CEO of the Port of London Authority, the Leader of Richmond Council and respective officials. It is chaired by Baroness Vere of Norbiton who is a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. The project director is Dana Skelley.

Funding the repair and restoration

On 19 February 2021, in response to a request from the Secretary of State for Transport, H&F submitted an outline financial plan to the Department for Transport (DfT). The 108-page report detailed funding and future governance options for Hammersmith Bridge, including toll and road charging proposals, to provide the best value for local and national taxpayers.                                            

On 1 June 2021, it was announced by the Government that, as part of its latest funding and financing package for Transport for London (TfL), the DfT, TfL and H&F hope to develop a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the funding of the project. Each party would agree to pay a share of the cost. Repair costs are to be led by H&F and TfL, with the Government contributing one-third of the costs.

At the Government Taskforce meeting of 3 June 2021, it was noted that the advice of engineers commissioned by H&F and TfL is still being developed, and agreed it is important to conclude which option will determine the way forward by the end of the month. This work is ongoing.

The Taskforce was informed that no borough council has ever paid 33 per cent of repair works for any London bridges. H&F had already committed £8.6m. Historically, TfL has paid 85 per cent for repair works on London bridges owned by borough councils.

As Hammersmith Bridge is exceptional in being one of the world’s oldest mechanical suspension bridges and one of the most expensive bridges to repair and maintain in the United Kingdom, H&F questioned why any further contribution should be required in such circumstances – let alone a baseless and unprecedented 33 per cent.

    Further information

    Q&As – all you need to know

    Here are some facts that will explain what has happened with the 133-year-old suspension bridge, why major works are necessary and what H&F is doing to mitigate the impact of the closure.

    All links in the following Q&As open in a new window or tab.

    • Why did the bridge close for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic in August 2020?

      On safety grounds. On 13 August 2020 new sensors positioned throughout the bridge alerted engineers to a rapid and sudden increase in the size of dangerous micro-fractures in the cast iron pedestals that hold the 19th century suspension structure in place.

      Cracks in the pedestals under Hammersmith Bridge
      Image caption: Micro-factures in the north west and south west pedestals under Hammersmith Bridge

      Cast iron is brittle and can shatter and the expansion of the micro-fractures posed the serious risk that the bridge could suddenly and with little warning collapse, so on urgent safety grounds it had to be closed to all users, including river traffic.

    • Why did the bridge close to vehicles in 2019?

      In April 2019, hairline micro-fractures in the bridge’s pedestals were first discovered by the council’s specialist engineers using the latest technology, prompting the council to close the bridge to vehicles on safety grounds.

      The engineers discovered that the microfractures are a consequence of decades of unchecked corrosion that is riddled throughout the suspension structure. These very serious problems were only revealed because, in 2014, the administration commissioned a Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review – the first in the bridge’s history.

    • What is the Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review?

      The current administration commissioned a Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review (CSIR) of the bridge in 2014, the first in its history, with the objective of understanding if the bridge was structurally sound. As part of the review, the council hired a team of world class specialist engineers, started weekly safety inspections and installed hi-tech sensors all over the bridge to check if stresses were causing structural damage.

      The review, likened to peeling back an onion, revealed elements of the bridge that hadn’t been uncovered since it was built. These investigations revealed the extent of structural problems with the bridge – its natural and necessary flexibility had become compromised, causing critical fractures in the pedestals that anchor the bridge into the ground.

      Based on the engineer’s reports and the findings of the CSIR, a comprehensive and enduring repair plan has been drawn up and is ready for implementation, pending funding.

    • What will it cost to repair?

      As the council’s CSIR peeled back different parts of this unique structure, new, complex and often dangerous failures were revealed, pushing up restoration costs.

      Specialist engineers have put together comprehensive plans to fix the 133-year-old bridge. It will cost £46m to stabilise it, which will make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic. It will cost £141m to fully restore the bridge so it can be reopened to buses and motor vehicles – a similar amount to building a new bridge. A quicker option could cost up to £163m.

    • Who will pay for it?

      The bridge can be fixed, the plans are ready and work could start immediately. Securing the necessary funds to pay for this major infrastructure project is less straight forward.

      The estimated cost simply to make the bridge safe and avoid a potential catastrophic failure, is £46m. No council has that kind of money available, even before the multi-million pounds cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

      Hammersmith Bridge is a strategically important river crossing and a main London transport artery. The Leaders of Hammersmith & Fulham and Richmond Councils have asked for the government’s financial support.

      Only the government and the private sector has the sort of sums needed. The taskforce is exploring funding options. The council will not be asking residents of H&F to contribute to the cost.

    • Could H&F use its reserves to pay for the bridge?

      No. The reserves are critical to ensuring that the council is in a position at all times to maintain its hundreds of statutory duties and services to residents including protecting children at risk of abuse, providing care to the elderly and disabled, maintaining roads and parks, collecting refuse, tackling homelessness and keeping libraries open.

      Our general fund reserves currently total £80m. In addition, a reserves balance of £50m is ring-fenced for the housing revenue account and £10m is held for schools. Our reserves are below average among London councils.

      Of the general fund reserves, the council’s general balance of £19m is required to cover unforeseen financial risks and provide cover for unexpected or unavoidable additional costs. This is agreed each year as part of the budget strategy.  Of the remaining balance of earmarked reserves of £61m, £27m of these are already committed.

      Since 2010, our annual revenue budget from government has been cut by £67m, and, as of November, we were we looking at a predicted £13.7m Covid shortfall between what the government pledged to help and what it has delivered.

      Our last external audit findings report commented: “The council’s reserves level is of concern as there doesn’t appear to be sufficient cushion to weather the ongoing financial challenges that the council will face over the medium term due to reductions in central government funding and forecast pressures of the Dedicated Schools Grant funding.”

      As a financially efficient council, we will not imperil our reserves against auditors’ advice. We have a duty to residents to keep the council on a firm financial footing.

    • Doesn’t the council lend out millions in loans?

      We work hard in H&F to effectively manage our finances. This includes short-term, low-risk lending which generates funds to re-invest in frontline services. Our financial efficiency has allowed us to keep council tax low while improving services for residents.

      An inaccurate news story in May 2020 claimed that H&F was lending “lending half a billion” to other local authorities, during 2018/19. This story, based on an aggregate of loans without taking into account their return, was false and has since been corrected.

      The total sum available for the council to invest includes not just reserves but other cash balances such as capital receipts and specific grant balances.

      At the end of 2019, we had £154.5m loaned out to other local authorities which included a £90m capital receipt from the previous administration’s Conditional Land Sale Agreement with a property developer for the sale of 750 council homes at the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates. This was money held by the council that could not be spent on other areas until the estates were fully handed over to the developers. Ultimately, the money was used to buy back the estates following the successful campaign to protect the homes of residents from speculators.

      As of December 2020, we have £17m loans out with local authorities, a very small amount compared to many other local authorities.

    • What is the purpose of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce?

      Following council requests for the government’s urgent constructive engagement and financial support, on 9 September 2020, the government announced a Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce which would take over the project and work up solutions. The taskforce’s remit includes reviewing Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s proposed stabilisation and repair scheme and exploring funding options for the repair of the bridge and for temporary solutions. The council welcomes the government’s engagement. Read updates from the taskforce on this page.

      Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Cllr Gareth Roberts, the Leader of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, attend the taskforce, which is chaired by Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, and includes representatives from Transport for London, the Department of Transport, and the Port of London Authority. The Project Director is Dana Skelley OBE.

    • What about building a temporary road bridge?

      Contrary to misleading claims, a temporary road bridge could not be built for £7m in three months. This proposal has been discarded by Transport for London engineers on the grounds of cost, timescale and feasibility.

      The required permission for a temporary bridge from the Port of London Authority is also contingent on all the funding for the complete repair of the bridge being already in place before work on a temporary bridge could start.

      Without the financing in place for the permanent repair, the option of any kind of temporary bridge is not available.

    • Why not just take it down and build a new one?

      The bridge is protected by Historic England. It is a Grade II Listed heritage asset meaning it is a 'particularly important' national structure of 'more than special interest'. Despite its problems, Hammersmith Bridge is a beautiful Victorian structure and a unique part of Britain’s pioneer engineering heritage. Furthermore, the cost of building a new bridge would be similar to the repair of the current bridge.

    • What else is being done to mitigate the disruption?

      Hammersmith & Fulham Council is working closely and constructively with the MPs for Hammersmith, Richmond Park, Putney, and Brentford and Isleworth, with TfL, the Mayor of London, with Richmond Council, the PLA and the government’s Taskforce to coordinate our joint mitigation efforts.

      At our request, TfL has reorganised buses in the area to ensure that residents still have a connected public transport network while the bridge remains closed. It has also enhanced its Dial-a-Ride services to provide another option for people with impaired mobility whose journeys might have been affected by the closure.

      TfL has added a series of alternative bus routes for Hammersmith Bridge:

      • Extra services on Route 533 (Hammersmith Bus Station - Lonsdale Road), increasing the frequency Monday to Friday from two to four buses an hour.
      • Extra services on Route 378 (Mortlake Bus Station – Putney Bridge Station), increasing the frequency Monday to Saturday during the day from five to eight buses per hour.

      TfL has extended its Dial-a-Ride scheme to help residents with mobility needs who live near Hammersmith Bridge. For more details, read our Dial-a-Ride news story.

      If you have any questions about the repair works, please call TfL on 0343 222 1234. (Charges apply - calls from landlines are typically charged between 2p and 10p per minute and calls from mobiles typically cost between 10p and 40p per minute. Connection charges may apply.)

    • What's so special about Hammersmith Bridge?

      Hammersmith Bridge was the first suspension bridge built over the Thames. Designed by the noted 19th century civil engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, it was built in 1887.

      Opened by the Prince of Wales in June 1887, Hammersmith Bridge is a complex feat of Victorian engineering built using a combination of cast iron, wrought iron and 999 individual wooden plates. It features structural copulas and seven crests. It's also London’s lowest bridge, with a water clearance of just 12 feet at high tide, and one of the capital’s weakest bridges, which is why weight restrictions have been in place since 2015.

      Hammersmith Bridge has been bombed three times – by the IRA in 1939, by the Provisional IRA in 1996, and by the Real IRA in 2000.

      The bridge is one of London’s most iconic structures and features in many films.

    • Who is responsible for fixing the bridge?

      The bridge is a Grade II Listed heritage asset meaning it is a 'particularly important' national structure of 'more than special interest'.

      Ownership of the bridge was passed to Hammersmith & Fulham Council in 1985 after the abolition of the GLC. When the current administration launched its Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review in 2014, it revealed that the bridge had been poorly maintained for decades. The Council is currently paying £2.7m a year simply to stop additional and dangerous deterioration.

      Hammersmith Bridge is London icon and a vital part of London’s strategic transport system and major North South arterial route, which is why Transport for London (TfL) has been project managing the restoration of the bridge since 2015.

    • Who uses the bridge?

      The bridge was built for horses, carts and penny farthings. Until 2015, when the council limited the number of buses, the bridge was used by 22,000 cars and 1,800 buses every day.

      Up until 13 August 2020, hundreds of boats travelled underneath and 16,000 pedestrians and cyclists travelled across it each day including more than 1,000 school children from several London boroughs.

      The bridge is a main artery connecting the north and south sides of the Thames and a vital river crossing for residents in neighbouring boroughs on both sides of the Thames, and for London as a whole.

    • Will the bridge look the same once it's reopened?

      The bridge will be fully restored to its former glory and, once restored, will look better than it does today.

      As well as repairing its structural issues, its road surface will be renovated to ensure the surface is smooth and fit for purpose. In addition, the original electric lights will be replaced with LED light bulbs. Although the LED light bulbs will look the same they will cut energy use by 50 per cent.

    • What about emergency vehicles?

      There have been emergency service contingency plans in place long before the bridge was closed. Hammersmith & Fulham Council is in regular dialogue with all emergency service providers.


    Mott MacDonald report documents

    Plans for a ferry

    Press and media coverage


    Freedom of information requests

    Before submitting a Freedom of Information request regarding Hammersmith Bridge, you might consider reviewing the disclosure log.