Saturday, 31 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 16 Battersea bridge

the first Battersea Bridge was a toll bridge commissioned by John, Earl Spencer, who had recently acquired the rights to operate the ferry. although a stone bridge was planned, difficulties in raising investment meant that a cheaper wooden bridge was built instead. designed by Henry Holland, it was initially opened to pedestrians in November 1771, and to vehicle traffic in 1772. the bridge was poorly designed and dangerous both to its users and to passing shipping, and boats often collided with it so to reduce the dangers to shipping, two piers were removed and the sections of the bridge above them were strengthened with iron girders.
 although dangerous and unpopular, the bridge was the last surviving wooden bridge on the Thames in London, and was the subject of paintings by many significant artists such as J. M. W. Turner, John Sell Cotman and James McNeill Whistler, including Whistler's Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, and his controversial Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket. Whistler's Nocturne series achieved notoriety in 1877, when influential critic John Ruskin visited an exhibition of the series at the Grosvenor Gallery, he wrote of the painting Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket, that Whistler was "asking two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face"  Whistler sued for libel, the case reaching the courts in 1878, the judge in the case caused laughter in the court when, referring to Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge, he asked Whistler "Which part of the picture is the bridge?";the case ended with Whistler awarded token damages of one farthing! in 1905, Nocturne: Blue and Gold became the first significant acquisition by the newly formed National Art Collections Fund, and is now in Tate Britain

Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket
File:James Abbot McNeill Whistler 006.jpgFile:Whistler-Nocturne in black and gold.jpgNocturne: Blue and Gold –Old Battersea Bridge

 in 1879 the bridge was taken into public ownership, and in 1885 demolished and replaced with the existing bridge, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and built by John Mowlem & Co. The narrowest surviving road bridge over the Thames in London, it is one of London's least busy Thames bridges. the location on a bend in the river makes the bridge a hazard to shipping, and it has been closed many times due to collisions
the bridge briefly attained national prominence on 20 January 2006 when a 5.8 m long female bottlenose whale became stranded at Battersea bridge. a rescue operation was mounted, and large crowds flocked to the bridge - the whale was successfully transferred to a barge, but died while being transported back to the sea to be released. a year after the whale's death, its skeleton was put on public display in the offices of The Guardian newspaper and it now resides at the Natural History museum

Friday, 30 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 15 Albert bridge



Albert bridge was designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873 as an Ordish–Lefeuvre system modified cable-stayed bridge, it proved to be structurally unsound, and so between 1884 and 1887 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated some of the design elements of a suspension bridge; the Greater London Council carried out further strengthening work in 1973 by adding two concrete piers, which transformed the central span into a simple beam bridge. as a result of these modifications, the bridge today is an unusual hybrid of three different design styles, yet it is a grade II* listed building.
built as a toll bridge, it was commercially unsuccessful and six years after its opening it was taken into public ownership and the tolls were lifted -the tollbooths remained in place, however, and are the only surviving examples of bridge tollbooths in London. the bridge was nicknamed "the trembling lady" because of its tendency to vibrate when large numbers of people walked over it, the bridge has signs at its entrances that warned troops from the nearby former Chelsea barracks to break step whilst crossing the bridge.
 incorporating a roadway only 8.2 m wide, and with serious structural weaknesses, the bridge was ill-equipped to cope with the advent of the motor vehicle during the 20th century. despite many calls for its demolition or pedestrianisation, the Albert bridge has remained open to vehicles throughout its existence, other than for brief spells during repairs. the strengthening work carried out by Bazalgette and the GLC was unable to prevent further deterioration of the bridge's structure. and the bridge's condition is continuing to degrade as the result of traffic load and severe rotting of the timber deck structure caused by the urine of the many dogs using it as a route to nearby Battersea park!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 14 Chelsea bridge


there have been two Chelsea bridges, on the site of what was an ancient ford

the first Chelsea bridge was proposed in the 1840s as part of a major development of marshlands on the south bank of the Thames into the new Battersea park - it was a suspension bridge intended to provide convenient access from the densely populated north bank to the new park. although built and operated by the government, tolls were charged initially in an effort to recoup the cost of the bridge. work on the nearby Chelsea Embankment delayed construction and so the bridge, initially called Victoria bridge, did not open until 1857. although well received architecturally, as a toll-bridge it was unpopular with the public, and Parliament felt obliged to make it toll-free on Sundays. the bridge was less of a commercial success than had been anticipated, partly because of competition from the newly built Albert Bridge nearby. it was acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1877, and the tolls were abolished in 1879.
the bridge was narrow and structurally unsound, leading the authorities to rename it Chelsea Bridge to avoid the Royal Family's association with a potential collapse. in 1926, with the bridge unable to handle increased volumes of users, caused by population growth in the surrounding area and the introduction of the automobile, it was proposed that the old bridge be rebuilt or replaced.

between 1934 and 1937 it was demolished and replaced by the current structure, which opened in 1937

the new bridge was the first self-anchored suspension bridge in Britain, and was built entirely with materials sourced from within the British empire. as with the earlier construction of nearby Battersea bridge, during excavations workers found large quantities of Roman and Celtic weapons and skeletons in the riverbed, leading many historians to conclude that the area was the site of Julius Caesar's crossing of the Thames during the 54 BC invasion of Britain, the most significant item found was the Celtic la Tène style bronze and enamel Battersea Shield, one of the most significant pieces of Celtic military equipment found in Britain, recovered from the riverbed during dredging for the piers – now in the British museum

during the early 1950s it became popular with motorcyclists, who staged regular races across the bridge - one such meeting in 1970 erupted into violence, around 50 people took part in the fight; weapons used included motorcycle chains, flick knives and at least one spiked flail, a member of one gang was shot with a sawn-off shotgun and fatally wounded, and 20 of those present were sentenced to between one and twelve years imprisonment

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 13 Grosvenor bridge

the next bridge upstream in this series is actually Vauxhall bridge but as I have already included a photograph of that bridge (see 8 February) the ‘rules’ of this blog do not allow it to appear again
Vauxhall bridge
Vauxhall bridge is a Grade II* listed steel and granite deck arch bridge which opened in 1906, it replaced an earlier bridge, originally known as Regent Bridge but later renamed Vauxhall bridge, built between 1809 and 1816 as part of a scheme for redeveloping the south bank of the Thames, the original bridge was itself built on the site of a former ferry
the building of both bridges was problematic, with both the first and second bridges requiring several redesigns from multiple architects. the original bridge, the first iron bridge over the Thames, was built by a private company and operated as a toll bridge before being taken into public ownership in 1879. the second bridge, which took eight years to build, was the first in London to carry trams and later one of the first two roads in London to have a bus lane
in 1963 it was proposed to replace the bridge with a modern development containing seven floors of shops, office space, hotel rooms and leisure facilities supported above the river, but the plans were abandoned because of costs. with the exception of alterations to the road layout and the balustrade, the design and appearance of the current bridge has remained almost unchanged since 1907
the 1907 bridge was built to a starkly functional design, and many influential architects had complained about the lack of consultation from any architects during the design process by the engineers designing the new bridge. in 1903, during the construction of the bridge, the LCC consulted with architect William Edward Riley regarding possible decorative elements that could be added to the bridge. Riley proposed erecting two 18m pylons topped with statues at one end of the bridge, and adding decorative sculpture to the bridge piers. the pylons were rejected on grounds of cost, but following further consultation with leading architect Richard Norman Shaw it was decided to erect monumental bronze statues above the piers, and Alfred Drury and Frederick Pomeroy were appointed to design appropriate statues
Drury and Pomeroy carried out the project, each contributing four monumental statues, which were installed in late 1907, on the upstream piers are Pomeroy's Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering and Pottery, whilst on the downstream piers are Drury's Science, Fine Arts, Local Government and Education, each statue weighs approximately two tons but despite their size, the statues are little-noticed by users of the bridge as they are not visible from the bridge itself, but only from the river banks or from passing shipping
File:Pomeroy Agriculture.JPGFile:Pomeroy Pottery.JPG

If you're still here after all that here is Grosvenor bridge 

Grosvenor bridge, originally known as, and alternatively called Victoria railway bridge, is a railway bridge originally constructed in 1860, and widened in 1865 and 1907, the bridge was rebuilt and widened again in the 1960s as an array of ten parallel bridges


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 12 Lambeth bridge

Lambeth bridge

the current structure, a five-span steel arch, designed by engineer Sir George Humphreys and architects Sir Reginald Blomfield and G. Topham Forrest was built by Dorman Long and opened on 19 July 1932 by king George V. the most conspicuous colour in the bridge's paint scheme is red, the same colour as the leather benches in the House of Lords which is at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster nearest the bridge – the red has now faded to a rather strange shade of pink and rust

it is a road traffic and footbridge and formerly carried four lanes of road traffic (now reduced to three lanes, one of which is a buses-only lane flowing eastbound) from a roundabout junction by the Lambeth palace northwards to another roundabout, at Horseferry road (the road name gives a clue to a previous crossing: a ferry operated on the site for some years)
the previous structure was a suspension bridge designed by Peter W. Barlow which opened as a toll bridge in 1862 but doubts about its safety, coupled with its awkwardly steep approaches deterring horse-drawn traffic, meant it soon became used almost solely as a pedestrian crossing. it ceased to be a toll bridge in 1879 when the Metropolitan Board of Works assumed responsibility for its upkeep — it was by then severely corroded

Monday, 26 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 11 Westminster bridge


Westminster bridge
Westminster Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the river, it is designated a Grade II* listed structure

the bridge is painted predominantly green, the same colour as the leather seats in the House of Commons which is on the side of the Palace of Westminster nearest the bridge, this is in contrast to Lambeth bridge (see tomorrow) which is red, the same colour as the seats in the House of Lords and is on the opposite side of the Houses of Parliament
 For over 600 years, the nearest bridge to London Bridge was at Kingston
a bridge at Westminster was proposed in 1664, but opposed by the Corporation of London and the watermen, despite further opposition in 1722 the scheme received parliamentary approval in 1736 the bridge was required for traffic from the expanding West End to the developing South London as well as to south coast ports
it was financed by private capital, lotteries and grants, Westminster bridge, designed by the Swiss architect Charles Labelye, was built between 1739-1750.
by the mid 19th century the bridge was subsiding badly and expensive to maintain and was replaced by the current bridge which was designed by Thomas Page and opened on May 24, 1862
with an overall length of 252 metres and a width of 26 metres, it is a seven-arch wrought iron bridge with Gothic detailing by Charles Barry (the architect of the Palace of Westminster. in 2005-2007 it underwent a complete refurbishment, including replacing the iron fascias and repainting the whole bridge.
William Wordsworth wrote the sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802:
 Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 10 Hungerford bridge

Hungerford bridge

Hungerford Bridge is a steel truss railway bridge—sometimes known as the Charing Cross Bridge—flanked by two more recent, cable-stayed, pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge's foundation piers (see yesterday)

the first Hungerford Bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opened in 1845 as a suspension footbridge, it was named after the then Hungerford market, because it went from the South Bank to Hungerford market on the north side of the Thames
 in 1859 the original bridge was bought by the railway company extending the south eastern railway into the newly opened Charing Cross railway station and the railway company replaced the suspension bridge with a structure designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, comprising nine spans made of wrought iron lattice girders, which opened in 1864
the chains from the old bridge were re-used in Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge - the original brick pile buttresses of Brunel's footbridge are still in use, though the one on the Charing Cross side is now much closer to the river bank than it was originally, due to the building of the Victoria Embankment, completed in 1870; the buttress on the south bank side still has the entrances and steps from the original steamer pier Brunel built on to the footbridge
 walkways were added on each side, with the upstream one later being removed when the railway was widened

Saturday, 24 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 9 golden jubilee footbridges


 golden jubilee footbridge with the brickwork of Hungerford bridge
the original walkway on the Hungerford bridge (see tomorrow) gained a reputation for being narrow, dilapidated and dangerous – in the mid-1990s a decision was made to replace the footbridge with new structures on either side of the existing railway bridge, and a competition was held in 1996 for a new design

the concept design was won by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and engineers WSP group 
their construction was complicated by the need to keep the railway bridge operating without interruptions, the Bakerloo line tunnels passing only a few feet under the river bed, and the potential danger of unexploded World War II bombs in the Thames mud
despite extensive surveys of the riverbed, London Underground was unwilling to accept these risks and preliminary works were stopped in 2000 and the design was modified so that the support structure on the north side, which would have been within 15 m of the tube lines, was moved out of the river bed and onto Victoria Embankment - excavation near the tube lines was carried out when the tube was closed and foundations were hand-dug for additional security
the design of the bridges is complex - each of the two decks is supported by inclined outward-leaning pylons with the decks being suspended from fans of slender steel rods called deck stays—there are 180 on each deck, made up of over 4 km of cable—and are held in position by other rods called back stays
the two new 4-metre wide footbridges were completed in 2002, they were named the golden jubilee bridges, in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Elizabeth II's accession, although, wonderfully, they are still referred to as the "Hungerford footbridges"

Friday, 23 August 2013

London bridges across the river Thames: 8 Waterloo bridge

 Waterloo bridge

the first bridge on the site was designed in 1809-10 by John Rennie for the Strand Bridge Company and opened in 1817 as a toll bridge, before its opening it was known as 'Strand Bridge'
during the 1840s the bridge gained a reputation as a popular place for suicide attempts, in 1841, the American daredevil Samuel Gilbert Scott was killed while performing an act in which he hung by a rope from a scaffold on the bridge; in 1844 Thomas Hood wrote the poem The Bridge of Sighs about the suicide of a prostitute there  (poem available at: )

paintings of the bridge were created by John Constable and Claude Monet
from 1884, serious problems were found in Rennie's bridge piers, after scour from the increased river flow after Old London Bridge was demolished damaged their foundations
by the 1920s the problems had increased, with settlement at pier five necessitating closure of the whole bridge while some heavy superstructure was removed and temporary reinforcements put in place
London county council decided to demolish the bridge and replace it with a new one which was partially opened on 11 March 1942 and completed in 1945
Georgi Markov was a Bulgarian dissident assassinated on Waterloo Bridge by agents of the Bulgarian secret police assisted by the KGB on September 11, 1978 when a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin was fired into his leg via an umbrella

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

remnant of beach groyne, near Charmouth, Dorset, England (there's more to the picture than meets the eye)


as most of you will know the title of this blog rust never sleeps is taken from a Neil Young album/song
i count myself as one of Neil Young’s greatest fans (yes i have all the albums including the archives and some bootlegs) last night i was due to go to a Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert but found this statement posted on the venue’s website:
Due to an accident involving Crazy Horse, the remaining dates on the Neil Young and Crazy Horse tour of Europe and the British isles have been cancelled. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes to our fans or the Festivals where we were scheduled to appear. As you must be, we too are disappointed at this unfortunate turn of events. -- Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Neil Young and Crazy Horse are famed for their brilliantly mercurial performances – alas last night was not to be one of them, if you’d like to see him performing Hey Hey My My earlier on this year (as part of the same tour that last night’s concert was due to be part of) see:

Here are the lyrics:
Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

 Out of the blue and into the black
You pay for this, but they give you that
And once you're gone, you can't come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
Is this the story of johnny rotten?
It's better to burn out 'cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

window, Wolveton gatehouse, nr. Dorchester, Dorset, England

although now only a fragment of what was once a much larger house, Wolveton (or Wolfeton) remains one of Dorset's finest manors
it was inherited in 1480 by John Trenchard who soon afterwards began to build a new house. his son, sir Thomas, continued the work, building a courtyard house, the gatehouse was completed by sir Thomas in 1534, the gatehouse towers appear to be even earlier
in the 18th century, the Trenchards lived mainly at their other house, Lytchett Matravers, and Wolveton began to be overlooked - its magnificent collection of armorial stained glass was removed to Lytchett, most of it being broken on the way
Wolveton was bought in 1862 by Mr Weston who, whilst saving the house from ruin, made some rather heavy-handed additions
more recently the property moved into the ownership of colonel and mrs Thimbleby who restored Wolveton and its gatehouse to their former appearance, and since 1994 the Landmark Trust has arranged the letting of the gatehouse for holidays
the Landmark Trust rescues historic buildings and makes them into extraordinary places for holidays
it is a registered charity that relies on the generosity of supporters to rescue buildings at risk - once restored, the income from letting the buildings for holidays pays for their upkeep and secures their future
Wolveton gatehouse

 Wolveton house with the gatehouse on the far right (peeping out from behind the tree)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

mason bee colony made from illy coffee tin, my allotment, London, England

‘mason bee’ is the common name for a species of bees in the genus Osmia, of the family Megachilidae, they are named from their habit of making compartments of mud in their nests, which are made in hollow reeds/canes or holes in wood made by wood-boring insects
 unlike honey bees or bumblebees, mason bees are solitary; every female is fertile and makes her own nest, and there are no worker bees for these species, they produce neither honey nor beeswax
the bees emerge from their cocoons in the spring, with males the first to come out, they remain near the nests waiting for the females, when the females emerge, they mate - the males die, and the females begin provisioning their nests.
 mason bee females like to nest in narrow holes or tubes, typically naturally occurring tubular cavities, most commonly this means hollow twigs, but sometimes abandoned nests of wood-boring beetles, they do not excavate their own nests
the material used for the cell can be clay or chewed plant tissue
because mason bees provide an invaluable pollination service for gardeners it is possible to buy ‘nests’ for females to use – or you can make your own, as i have, out of an old coffee can and some hollowed out bits of bamboo
females then visit flowers to gather pollen and nectar, and many trips are needed to complete a pollen/nectar provision mass - once a provision mass is complete, the bee backs into the hole and lays an egg on top of the mass, she then creates a partition of mud, which doubles as the back of the next cell. the process continues until she has filled the cavity, female-destined eggs are laid in the back of the nest, and male eggs towards the front.
 once a bee has finished with a nest, she plugs the entrance to the tube, and then may seek out another nest location
 by the summer, the larva has consumed all of its provisions and begins spinning a cocoon around itself and enters the pupal stage, and the adult matures usually in the  winter, hibernating inside its insulatory cocoon until warm spring weather arrives
mason bees are increasingly cultivated to improve pollination for early spring fruit flowers, they are both beneficial and benign, since they both pollinate plants and do not sting

 one of my coffee tin mason bee colonies showing both occupied sealed tubes and empty tubes

Monday, 12 August 2013

escutcheon, church of Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, Domfront, Orne, France

the charming Romanesque church of our lady-on-the-water dates from the late 11th century it was severely damaged in the 20th century and five of the seven bays of the nave and side aisles were demolished - to make way for a road!
fortunately, some fine features have survived - the chancel is decorated with lovely arcading and it has a granite altar resting on three pillars, 12th century frescoes were uncovered in the south transept depicting the 'doctors of the church'
File:Notre dame sur leau domfront.JPG

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Amsterdam canal house gardens - 7


even with all of the canals someone still has to do the watering...
farewell to the week of canal houses