I’ve always found bridges particularly appealing. They are purely functional items – they serve of course to link one area of land to another – yet they are never just built as functional items. Great care is always taken to make them both visually and architecturally appealing. People seem to be proud of their bridges. They are seldom allowed to fall into neglect and are always well cared for, even though painting a bridge cannot be the simplest task there is!
I grew up in London, a city split neatly in two by the River Thames. Naturally that means I was spoilt for choice when it came to bridges. Some of them are iconic, such as Tower Bridge, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge. Amazingly, before the Great Fire of London in 1666, people used to live on London Bridge. It was tightly filled with buildings, and was the only means in the city of crossing the Thames at the time without taking to the water. The fire destroyed a third of the bridge. Eventually, in around 1760 all the houses on the bridge were ordered to be demolished through an Act of Parliament. How I wish I’d been around with my camera at the time!
The bridge pictured is Blackfriars Railway Bridge. The first version of this bridge was opened in 1864, but fell out of use in the 1920s when the growth of Waterloo station diminished the numbers of trains that used it. It was eventually demolished in 1985, although you can still see the columns spanning the Thames today. The fine art print above is of the second version of the bridge, built in 1886 to the east of the first version, and was originally called St Paul’s Railway Bridge. When St Paul’s station changed its name to Blackfriars in 1937, the name of the bridge was changed as well.
Blackfriars Railway Bridge is not to be confused with Blackfriars Bridge, which sits between the railway bridge and Waterloo Bridge (I am sure the people of the 1660s would be amazed if they knew that there are currently no less than 34 bridges that span the Thames). This bridge hit the headlines in 1982 when the former chairman of Italy’s largest private bank, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from one its arches with five bricks and $14,000 worth of currency in his pockets. For years this was thought to be a bizarre suicide, but twenty years later it was discovered that Calvi had been murdered. It turned out that the banker was on the run from the mafia as he owed than an unspecified amount of money. Unfortunately for Calvi, they caught up with him. Five men were tried for his murder in 2005, but all were acquitted.
In my photo you can see the columns of Blackfriars Bridge peeking out from the leftmost arch of the railway bridge – they really are that close! I like to think of bridges as works of art themselves, which is why I like to capture them and offer them as fine art prints. They are an inspiration to me, and I genuinely hope that you feel the same.