Many of London’s iconic bridges give unique views and access to some of the city’s most popular sights, tours and events; plus they are are well known landmarks in their own right. Wherever you find yourself along the Thames you’re guaranteed to be close to at least one of these famous bridges.
Built in 1894, Tower Bridge is the most iconic bridge in London. This impressive feat of engineering is 244 metres (800 feet) long, covered in 22,000 litres (5,812gal) of paint and crossed by 40,000 people each day.
Find out more about the famous bridge’s history at the Tower Bridge Exhibition, where you can also enjoy fantastic views from 45 metres (131 feet) above the Thames on the bridge’s walkways.
Take a look behind-the-scenes of the famous bridge at The Tower Bridge Exhibition. You’ll discover areas such as the bridge’s machinery room, which houses the hydraulic system that allows the bridge to rise for river traffic.
This process hasn’t always gone smoothly, however. In 1952, the bridge started rising while one of London’s double-decker buses was still trying to cross. Its driver, Albert Gunton, avoided catastrophe by accelerating rapidly and jumping the gap.
You can watch Tower Bridge live with our webcam.
While much more subdued in design compared to its flashier neighbour, London Bridge is arguably just as famous. The first incarnation was built by the Romans, followed later by medieval bridges with houses on top, and a stone bridge commissioned by Henry II which lasted until 1831.
An American firm called McCulloch Oil Company bought the next London Bridge for £1m in 1971 as a tourist attraction for the new Lake Havasu City in Arizona. But the story that Robert P. McCulloch thought that he was paying for the more iconic Tower Bridge is now thought to be an urban legend.
Find out more about the bridge’s history with the London Bridge experience, or explore its status as a film icon with the London Movie Tour.
The Millennium Bridge opened to the public on 10 June 2000, linking St Paul’s Cathedral on the north bank of the Thames with the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. The footbridge’s famous tremor has now been fixed, but “the wobbly bridge” nickname endures.
Built in 1869, Blackfriars Bridge gained notoriety in 1982 when Vatican bank Chairman Robert Calvi was found hanging from it. Calvi was embroiled in a series of financial scandals and a member of the “Propaganda Due” (or P2) Masonic lodge that brought down the Italian government in 1981. Members of P2 referred to themselves as “Frati neri” or Black Friars.
Opened in 1945, the current Waterloo Bridge earned the nickname the “Ladies Bridge” as it was built mainly by women during World War II (while many men were away fighting). The first bridge built here in 1817 was made up of nine granite arches and commemorated the victory of the British, the Dutch and the Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges
Opened in 2002, the two footbridges either side of the Hungerford Bridge were named in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Now a rail bridge, the Hungerford Bridge was also initially designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a footbridge. Walk straight down to the river from Trafalgar Square and you can cross the Golden Jubilee Bridges to the Southbank Centre and the London Eye.
Cross the Thames at Westminster Bridge if you want to get an iconic picture of Big Ben on the north bank, or the Coca-Cola London Eye to the south. It’s the oldest road bridge across the Thames in central London, and was designed by the same architect as the Palace of Westminster, Charles Barry.
A Russian delegation which visited the new Vauxhall railway station in the 1840s was so impressed that the word “voksal” entered the Russian language as the word for railway station.
In 1851, during the construction of Chelsea Bridge, which was originally referred to as Victoria Bridge, workmen found Roman and Celtic weapons, as well as human skulls and it was thought that this might have been where Julius Caesar and his army crossed the Thames.
Albert Bridge is a road bridge crossing the Thames in west London, connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south. It is one of only two road bridges in London to never have been replaced, despite calls for its demolition during the 20th century when it became clear the bridge was struggling to support an increasing number of motor vehicles. With its unique design and unusual colour scheme, the bridge is now an English Heritage Grade II listed building.
Built in 1890, Battersea Bridge is the narrowest road bridge over the Thames. Before the current bridge was built, the river could be crossed at this point by the very last wooden bridge on the Thames.
The current Wandsworth Bridge was opened in 1940, and painted in dull shades of blue to as camouflage against air raids. While the bridge is one of the busiest in London, carrying more than 50,000 vehicles a day, it has been described as “probably the least noteworthy” bridge in the city.
The first boat race between Putney and Mortlake took place in 1845, and Hammersmith Bridge became a popular vantage point. Mayhem ensued, with up to 12,000 people crowding on, causing concern about the strain this was causing to the bridge. Since 1882, the bridge has been closed on race day, but normally takes you between Hammersmith on the north bank across the river to Barnes.
It was the first of three London bridges opened on the same day. On 3 July 1933, Chiswick Bridge opened at 4.30pm, Twickenham at 5pm and Hampton Court at 5.30pm. Before Chiswick Bridge was built, people would cross the river by ferry.
Kew Bridge takes you from the train station of the same name across the Thames to Kew Gardens. The Museum of London also holds all the objects presented to King Edward VII on the day the bridge first opened, as it was originally named King Edward VII Bridge. These include the silver mallet and trowel he used, as well as a bronze axe.
Twickenham Bridge was designed by Maxwell Ayrton, the architect of the original Wembley Stadium and a pioneer of the architectural use of concrete. It provides a crossing between Twickenham and St. Margarets, and Richmond.
Like its neighbour, Richmond Bridge also crosses the Thames between Twickenham and Richmond. Built between 1774 and 1777 as a replacement for a ferry crossing, it is now the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London.
At the Kingston end of the bridge, a ducking stool into the Thames for “punishing nagging wives” was recorded as being in use until 1738. It’s a very short walk from the other side of Kingston Bridge to the huge park at Hampton Wick.