Address: London SE1 8

450m from Waterloo

300m from Temple

Waterloo Bridge is located in central London on a bend in the Thames and leads, on the north side, to The Strand via Lancaster Place. This proximity led to the bridge initially being called Strand Bridge. The project was undertaken by the Strand Bridge Company and the first stone was laid in 1811, with the bridge being opened in 1817 by the Prince Regent. Before this, in 1816, an Act of Parliament renamed the bridge ‘Waterloo Bridge’ in recognition of victory in the Battle of Waterloo the year before.

The bridge was designed by John Rennie, made of granite and cost £937,391 and was described by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova as the noblest bridge in the world as it blended in nicely with the impressive nearby Somerset House. To recoup the cost, a toll charge was made, but as users could cross nearby Westminster or Blackfriars bridges free of charge, it became unpopular. The bridge was acquired by the Metropolitan Board in 1877 at a cost of £427,200 and the toll was removed.

Around this time, much erosion was found on the river supports, caused mainly by the increased flow following the rebuilding of London Bridge. By 1924 the bridge was considered unsafe and was closed. Parliamentary consent for a new bridge was given in 1936 and the new bridge was designed by eminent architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It was built using reinforced concrete clad in Portland stone with some of the grey Cornish granite of the old bridge also being used. The design was of five spans, each of 250 feet, being considerably less than the nine spans of the original bridge.

The building of the bridge coincided with the Second World War and due to the consequent shortage of men to build it, was largely constructed with female labour, thus being nicknamed ‘The Ladies Bridge’. It was partially opened to traffic in 1942 and fully opened in 1945.

With its central location, the bridge provides easy access to some of the best London sites.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.