The original Blackfriars railway bridge was built between 1862 and 1864, at the same time as the adjacent road bridge was replaced. Both were designed by Joseph Cubitt, but had little in common apart from the spacing of the piers. The railway bridge had five wrought iron, lattice-girder spans, supported on Romanesque cast iron columns. Each column comprised a cluster of four on a circular masonry pier. The abutments were built of stone from the old Westminster Bridge, which had recently been replaced by the present structure. The first railway bridge was 933 feet long and carried four tracks. The tracks over the original bridge were taken out of use individually between 1960 and 1971, due to deterioration of the structure. The spans were taken down in 1985, but the columns remain in the river. The masonry abutments, built of stone from the old Westminster bridge, also survive. Two ornate cast iron pylons, bearing the armorial device of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway and other decoration, are mounted on the southern abutment. These were cast at the Crumlin Ironworks, South Wales. They have been carefully renovated and repainted, with all of the details carefully picked out.
The second bridge, immediately downstream of the first, accommodated an additional five tracks running into new terminal platforms. It was completed in 1886 to the design of John Wolfe-Barry and H.M. Brunel (the second son of Isambard), having five wrought iron arches, with cast iron spandrels, on stone-faced brick piers.
Extensive work started on the bridge in 2009, after these photographs were taken, as part of the Thameslink Programme. The platforms of Blackfriars station are to be extended across the bridge and enclosed in a glazed roof. There is to be a new station entrance on the south side of the river. The bridge itself is being thoroughly overhauled.
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This page was created 11 January 2010