The 133 year old Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to pedestrians and river traffic since August because key sections of the structure have deteriorated dangerously. Specialist engineers have been monitoring it 24/7 using an extensive network of sensors on the 19th century structure. The recent heat wave has exacerbated the dangers despite measures taken to mitigate the heat.
The bridge will remain closed until the engineers are confident that it is safe to re-open to pedestrians and river traffic.
This means that pedestrians and cyclists must now cross the river elsewhere, while all river traffic under the bridge will also be stopped, including the pedestrian walkways under the Bridge, while engineers examine the extent of the damage.
The fact that cast iron can shatter is the reason why the bridge is affected by heat. It is also one reason why Hammersmith Bridge is the only bridge of its kind in the country, and one of only two in the world.
The bridge was designed and built in the 19th century by the noted civil engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette. It was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1887.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, said:
“The micro-fractures were only discovered because in 2014 I commissioned a comprehensive structural integrity review of all aspects of the bridge’s suspension structure, which began in 2015. That was the first such review in decades”.