Hammersmith Bridge timeline

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1824 to 1985

1824: The current bridge’s predecessor, a toll bridge, was erected. Today’s Hammersmith Bridge was built using this earlier bridge’s foundations.

1884: Work began on the construction of Hammersmith Bridge by the Metropolitan Board of Works.

1887: June - Hammersmith Bridge, designed by the noted 19th century civil engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, was opened in June 1887, by the Prince of Wales.

1888: The Metropolitan Board of Works was abolished by the Local Government Act 1888 with effect from 21 March 1889 and was succeeded by the London County Council (LCC).

1924: The centenary of the bridge’s opening.

1939: Hammersmith Bridge was bombed by the IRA, the first of three similar bomb attacks over the next 60 years.

1963: The London County Council was abolished with effect from 1 April 1965 and was replaced by the new Greater London Council (GLC).

1973-1977: The bridge was refurbished between 1973 and 1977 “to give the structure at least a further 15 years of guaranteed life” (Hyder Consultancy Report 1997).

1977-96: The bridge underwent a continuing pattern of maintenance work as well as specific repairs caused by damage from overloading.

1985: The GLC was abolished by the Local Government Act 1985 with effect from 31 March 1986 and ownership of the bridge passes to the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

1996 to 2000

1996: A Principal Inspection highlighted some areas where the 110-year-old structure was not functioning in the way it was designed to. The structure was found to be unable to carry traffic with a 7.5 tonne weight restriction in combination with pedestrian loading.

1996: Hammersmith Bridge was bombed by the provisional IRA.

1997: Bridge closed to vehicles except a single bus in each lane, emergency vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians, which corresponded to the maximum safe load for the bridge in its condition.

1997: Hayder Consultancy publishes its Report “Alternatives for the Bridge Remedial Works” which recommended a £5million refurbishment and further investigations.

1997-2000: £5million spent by H&F Council on strengthening and repair work, as recommended by the Hayder Consultancy report.

2000 to 2019

2000: Hammersmith Bridge was bombed by the Real IRA.

2006-2014: The council’s £1million budget for bridge maintenance cut to £250,000 which was spent on refurbishing the wood panels and other minor works.

2014: A second report from Hayder raised concerns about the bridge’s resilience prompting the new administration in August 2014 to commission the first Comprehensive Structural Integrity Review (CSIR) into the bridge in its history.

2015: March - As part of the CSIR the council hires a team of world class specialist engineers, started weekly safety inspections and installed hi-tech ultrasound sensors across the bridge to measure and diagnose its structural stresses.

2015: Council imposes new strict restrictions on bus numbers. Before the limit was put in place, the bridge was used by 22,000 motor vehicles including 1,800 buses every day.

2016: TfL (under Boris Johnson) agrees 90 per cent of the funding for strengthening the bridge, estimated at £25million and requests the reopening of the bridge to double decker buses be explored as part of the design options.

2017-2019: H&F Council appoints Mott Macdonald Limited to undertake feasibility, monitoring and assessment of the bridge. Specialist world class engineers with experience of working on oil rigs and the Golden Gate Bridge are called in. Decades of unchecked corrosion revealed to have caused bearings and other critical moving parts to cease up.

2019

10 April 2019: The 133-year-old suspension bridge was closed to motorised traffic for major safety-critical work after micro-fractures in the cast iron pedestals that hold the suspension structure in place were discovered by the ultrasound sensors. 

April 2019: TfL confirms £25million funding towards the design concepts for the repair of Hammersmith Bridge to H&F Council.

2019: Engineers estimate the cost of reopening the bridge to motorised traffic at £120million, far in excess of any council budget.

17 June 2019: Two public meetings held in Barnes and attended by the Leaders of H&F and Richmond Councils.

19 August 2019: Mayor raises the bridge closure with Transport Secretary and requests a meeting between Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, and Transport Minister, Baroness Vere.  

30 August 2019: TfL Commissioner writes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer referencing Hammersmith Bridge in the context of the need for steady and sustained funding for transport in London.

3 September 2019: TfL and H&F Council announce the outcome of the feasibility studies and the agreed works required to refurbish the bridge. TfL reconfirms its contribution of £25million. 

10 October 2019: Letter from TfL to the Heritage Fund, requesting funding for Hammersmith Bridge. 

10 October 2019: Letter from TfL to the City Bridge Trust, requesting funding for Hammersmith Bridge.

11 October 2019: TfL requests meeting with Baroness Vere.    

3 December 2019: Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in Richmond, proposes a temporary bridge which he says will cost £7m. Baroness Vere says: “The only way we will get a temporary solution is if we have a Conservative government.”

10 December 2019: Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, promises the necessary funds and action to return the bridge to full use.

11 December 2019: Grant Shapps and Greg Hands, MP for Fulham promise funds and action to repair the bridge.

12 December 2019: General election returns a Conservative majority.

23 December 2019: Submission of Hammersmith Bridge congestion funding bid to Department for Transport (DfT). No response received to date.

2020

9 January 2020: TfL requests meeting with Baroness Vere.    

14 February 2020: Submission of bid for balance of funding to DfT. No response received to date.

3 March 2020: Westminster Hall debate on Hammersmith Bridge, led by Andy Slaughter MP.

9 March 2020: Meeting between DfT, H&F and Richmond Councils and local MPs. Baroness Vere requested further information on funding and repair options explored to date.

12 March 2020: Thames Tideway Mitigation Measures – heating system introduced to manage stress in key parts of the structure. 

18 June 2020: A bid for £38million submitted to MHCLG/BEIS Cities and Local Growth Unit’s following their call for ‘shovel-ready’ projects to pay for the stabilisation works. The bid is unsuccessful.

June 2020: Detailed design and procurement suspended due to all funding avenues having been exhausted.
    
24 July 2020: TfL includes £24million for Hammersmith Bridge in its revised budget, as part of its £2billion ask of government. 

Early August 2020: Mitigation measures implemented to control temperature during the heatwave.

13 August 2020: H&F Council announce they must close the bridge fully to all traffic, after further cracks are found following the highest prolonged heatwave since 1961. Up until 13 August 2020, 16,000 pedestrians and cyclists crossed the bridge each day and dozens of boats travelled underneath it.
    
24 August 2020: Leaders of H&F and Richmond Councils jointly seek the Government’s financial support in a letter to the Prime Minister.

27 August 2020: TfL updates DfT on costed repair options since the full closure of the bridge. Reiteration of previous bids for funding support, clarification that due to the full closure the cost for the total repairs has now risen and that TfL is not in a position to fund this due to the impact of Covid-19. Further request for funding from government. 

August 2020: Full restoration costs revised up to £141million for buses and motor vehicles, up to £163million to reduce the four-year timescale by as much as twelve months, to £46million to stabilise the bridge and make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic and to £27million for a temporary walking and cycling bridge.

7 September 2020: The New York Times publishes influential article – “London’s bridges really are falling down” – about the poor state of London’s infrastructure following years of cuts to local authority grants, with specific mention of Hammersmith Bridge.

9 September 2020: Questions regarding government funding raised in the House of Lords. During the ensuing debate there is widespread recognition that the repairs will need to be funded by the DfT.

9 September 2020: Grant Shapps announces the creation of the Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce that would “take over this project to... get this thing sorted.”

17 September 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets for the first time. Chaired by Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, members include the Deputy Mayor for Transport for London, the CEO of the Port of London Authority, the leaders of H&F and Richmond Councils and respective officials. The project director, appointed by the Government, is Dana Skelley.

23 September 2020: Shaun Bailey, Conservative mayoral candidate confirms the Government will fund the repairs: “Greg Hands and I asked the government to intervene and take over Hammersmith Bridge. And we are hugely grateful that the government listened. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, bailed out Sadiq Khan by taking over the bridge and funding the repairs.”

24 September 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets.

1 October 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets. H&F Council provides the taskforce with the detailed project plans it had worked up with TfL, which set out clearly the necessary steps to reopen the bridge within nine months to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic and within four years to cars and buses, subject to the necessary funding.

6 October 2020: Leader of H&F Council seeks assurances and details regarding the promised government funding.

8 October 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets. Taskforce commits to ferry service by “early 2021”.

9 October 2020: Shaun Bailey, Conservative mayoral candidate, again confirms the Government will pay for the repairs: “Residents are very happy that you [Grant Shapps] have provided the money... to repair the bridge... to get it back to motorized traffic.”

15 October 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets.

20 October 2020: Baroness Vere says a temporary solution including a temporary bridge can’t be delivered “now”.

21 October 2020: Hammersmith Bridge raised in Prime Minister’s Questions. Prime Minister Johnson tells Parliament: “I can confirm that Hammersmith Bridge has been closed entirely thanks to the incompetence of the Mayor of London and Shaun Bailey is going to reopen it.”

28 October 2020: Richmond Council hosts a public meeting with the Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce. 

29 October 2020: The Government’s Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce meets.

6 November 2020: TfL announces it is seeking expressions of interest to run the ferry service and agrees to make a further £4million contribution to urgent stabilisation and repair works.