Waterloo Bridge is noted for
its superb views over London.
To the west is the Embankment,
leading along the river towards the Houses of Parliament.
To east is the dome of St Pauls, surrounded by the spires
and high-rise buildings of the City. On the South Bank,
There are also good views towards the South Bank, where Waterloo
Bridge separates the National Theatre and the Royal Festival
Designed by John Rennie, this
was the first of three bridges he built on the Thames in London.
Constructed between 1811 - 16, the new bridge was 27ft wide
and 2,346 ft long. The bridge was supported by nine arches
faced and decorated by a pair of Doric columns on each pier.
Originally known as the Strand
Bridge, in 1816 it was renamed Waterloo Bridge and officially
opened by the Prince Regent on 18 June 1817, the second anniversary
of the Duke of Wellington's famous victory.
Waterloo Bridge was purchased
by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1878 and freed of tolls,
in an ceremony performed by the Prince and Princess of Wales.
However, the new owners discovered
that the foundations were in serious need of repair, the removal
of the old London Bridge had increased the tidal scour of
the Thames and the foundations of Waterloo Bridge had been
undermined. Each pier was subsequently reinforced between
1882 - 84.
By 1923 serious settlement was
found in the three central piers and attempts were made to
pump concrete under the sinking piers but the bridge was closed
as unsafe. Although conservationists wanted the bridge
restored, the London County Council considered that the bridge
should be replaced and commissioned the architect Sir Gilbert
Scot to replace the disused bridge and temporary structure
with a new bridge.
Work began in 1937 but the official
foundation stone, cut out of a stone from the old bridge,
was not laid until 1939. With its completion was delayed
by World War II, and few men available, most of the work was
carried out by female labour. Waterloo Bridge was the
first to be made with reinforced concrete beams. During
its construction the bridge was damaged by enemy action on
several occasions - the only Thames crossing to suffer
in this way.
In 1942 the 'Ladies Bridge' was
opened to pedestrians and two lanes of traffic. The
completed bridge was finally opened in 1945. At 80 ft
wide and 1,250 ft long and 80 ft wide, Waterloo Bridge is
the longest bridge in London.