LCDR Blackfriars Rail Bridge - 1864 - Blackfriars Bridge, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.513 W 000° 06.251
30U E 700949 N 5710356
Quick Description: In 1864 this bridge was built across the River Thames into Blackfriars station on the north side. It survived until 1984 when it was dismantled. All that remain today are pillars in the river and this magnificent cast iron date marker.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/25/2013 11:50:45 AM
Waymark Code: WMGYXH
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Jake39
Views: 10

Long Description:

The date marker can be seen from Blackfriars Bridge that crosses the river a few tens of metres to the west. The co-ordinates are given for a point on that bridge.

The Abandoned Stations website tells us about the rail crossings:

"Two railway bridges crossed the River Thames side-by-side to Blackfriars Station formerly named St Paul's. The downstream (easternmost) bridge of 1886, is currently being used by Thameslink trains. The older 1864 bridge was dismantled in 1985, leaving only four sets of quadruple-clustered cylindrical piers with foliated capitals standing clear of the water on granite plinths that stand on cast iron cylinders filled with concrete. Joseph Cubitt and F T Turner designed the bridge, which was a lattice girder structure.

In 1860 the London Chatham & Dover Railway (LDCR) was allowed to build an extension from its existing station at Beckenham to Ludgate Hill in the City of London. The new railway line would cross the Thames beside Blackfriars Bridge. As Joseph Cubitt was rebuilding the road bridge, it was agreed that he should design both bridges. Work started on the railway bridge in 1862 and the bridge and the station, then called St Paul's, opened in 1864.

The wrought-iron girder railway bridge has spans supported by masonry abutments and composite piers. Since the bridge formed part of St Paul's Station it was given a great deal of cast-iron ornamentation. The supports had ornate Romanesque capitals and decorated with large, brightly coloured shields incorporating the coat of arms of the LCDR.

The Blackfriars Railway Bridge carried only four tracks and 20 years later it was decided to construct a second railway bridge beside the first. Designed by W. Mills, the new wrought-iron bridge opened in 1886. Its river spans match the old bridge, and on the downstream side the bridge is decorated with pulpit turrets, while on the upstream side there are Gothic-style cast-iron parapets. Following the re-organisation of the railways in 1923, the new Southern Railway decided to concentrate all its long-distance and Continental traffic at Waterloo and Victoria. As a result St Paul's Station lost all but its local and suburban services.

In 1937 St Paul's Station was renamed Blackfriars Station and the St Paul's Railway Bridge lost its identity to become just a widening of Blackfriars Railway Bridge. However, by the mid-20th century the old bridge was considered too weak to carry modern trains and the obsolete railway bridge was eventually dismantled in 1984 and its approach tracks removed. The land was taken up to provide offices such as the Daily Express building to the south, which is somewhat thin as a result.

Today all that is left are the ornate red columns of the original bridge. One of the cast-iron shields bearing the insignia of the LCDR can now be seen on display on the South Bank having been beautifully restored."

The southern abutment, where this shield is mounted, is Grade II listed with the entry at the English Heritage website telling us:

"Abutment. 1862-64. By Joseph Cubitt. For the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company. Abutments of stone faced with Portland stone from Charles Labelye's Westminster Bridge of 1738-49. HISTORICAL NOTE: built for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company to support the line on the Beckenham to Ludgate Hill route. As the bridge was to form part of the company's Blackfriars Station it was given good cast-iron ornament; the large shields flanking the way on the Southwark side bear the company's crest and title in full. These were restored c1990. The abutment to the south shore falls within the London Borough of Southwark. Joseph Cubitt designed Blackfriars Road Bridge to the west."

Date built or dedicated as indicated on the date stone or plaque.: 1864

Date stone, plaque location.: Southern abutment to the east of the road brdge and west of the current rail bridge.

Road, body of water, land feature, etc. that the bridge spans.: River Thames

Website (if available): [Web Link]

Parking (safe parking location): Not Listed

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