Read the text about famous London bridges and tell about them

The Richmond Bridge is the oldest still in use on the Thames. Built in 1774, it became too narrow for modern traffic, and engineers widened it in 1939. Now thirteen new or rebuilt bridges are spanning the Thames River. The original Westminster Bridge, designed by Charles Labelye, the second in central London, was open in 1817 (fig. 9.2a). Ferrymen, who could not win in the strong rivalry between the bridge and their ferries, protested against the permanent structure. The engineers had to rebuild the bridge during the period of 1937-1945. The Lambeth Bridge, built in 1862, followed by the steel modern structure in 1932, is remarkable for its brown painting. The elegant Waterloo Bridge by Sir Giles Scott, built in 1945, commemorates the Duke of Wellington’s glorious victory over Napoleon,

Several of London’s bridges have special features – the elegant century-old Hammersmith suspension Bridge has ornamental metal works, and the Vauxhall Bridge is famous for its high bronze figures representing pottery, engineering, architecture, agriculture, science, fine arts, local government and education. The massive piers of Black Friars Bridge, shaped like pulpits, recall the monks who once lived on the left bank. This bridge is famous for its fine ironwork.


a - The Westminster Bridge b - The Tower Bridge


Figure 9.2 London Bridges


One of London’s best-known landmarks in the Gothic style nearby the Tower of London is over 100 years old (fig. 9.2b, 9.4c). The Tower Bridge is London’s river gateway and a fairy-tale structure indeed. It is a movable bridge of the double-leaf bascule type. Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry built this representation of Victorian engineering in 1884. Its twin towers rise 61 m above the Thames. Between the towers, there are two glass-covered walkways of 43 m high, which offer fine views and allow pedestrians to cross while the bridge remains raised. The bridge is made of steel and faced with granite and Portland stone. When being raised, the central section creates a 60 m space for upstream passage of ocean vessels. Hydraulic pumps lifted the bascules, weighing 1,000 tons each. The pumps used steam until 1976. Now the original steam power system and hydraulic machinery are in the bridge museum because the electric motors lift the bascules.

As London grew, a score of bridges linked the banks of many boroughs, and the bridges inherited the names of former villages. The Chelsea suspension bridge, built in this fashionable borough of the West End, was open in 1937. The Kew Bridge is nearby the Royal Botanic Gardens, a world-famous scientific research centre. The Hampton Court Bridge is a part of Britain’s national heritage and bears the name of one of the most famous historical places. Road traffic crosses the river on the cast-iron arch spans of the Southwark Bridge, built in 1814-1819 and replaced in 912-1921. The Hungerford Foot Bridge is next to Charing Cross Bridge and connects Charing Cross and Waterloo stations.

The Thames twists and turns for 48 km beneath and between the bridges, refreshed with new layers of paint. The Albert suspension bridge, painted in wedding rose colours, still bears the order for troops to “break step” when marching across. The list of the River Thames crossings cannot be complete without the Woolwich Ferry, Blackwall Tunnels (southbound and northbound), Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Railway Foot Bridge, the Grosvenor Bridge and the London Millennium Footbridge, completed at the turn of the 21st century (fig.9.3a). The bridge was open in 2000 but the enginers closed it because the bridge swayed unexpectedly. Having been repaired the bridge was put into operation again.

a – The Millennium Footbridge b - The Thames Barrier in London


Figure 9.3 Modern London Bridges


Flooding, funneling water from the North Sea up the Thames, has always threatened London. To control the threat of floods from surge tides, the engineers built the world’s largest movable flood barrier in 1984, 13 km downstream of the London Bridge. The Thames Barrier consists of ten stainless-steel movable gates separated by nine piers (fig. 9.3b). At flood risk, it takes only 30 minutes to raise the gates by electro hydraulic machinery to form a continuous barrier of 520 m sealing London off from the sea.

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