Address: Westminster, London

600m from Waterloo

100m from Westminster

When the idea for a bridge at Westminster was first proposed in 1664, Londoners disapproved and asked Charles II to dismiss the idea, which he did. But, from Westminster, locals had to travel a fair way along the riverbank to reach the nearest bridge so eventually, and as the proposed crossing was located outside Parliament, it was hotly debated in the Chamber.

At the time the West End was expanding rapidly and south London was in the process of being developed so a bridge at this point had become vital. A Bill was introduced in Parliament in 1735 and a new bridge was approved in 1736. It cost almost £600,000 of which £197,500 was raised through selling £5 lottery tickets with the government paying the remaining £380,500. It was designed by Swiss architect Charles Labelye and was originally to have been made of timber. In 1739 it was decided to build out of Portland stone and work started straight away. It was opened in 1750.

By 1810 the bridge had become too narrow and was in need of repair and by 1851 a committee had been set up to make plans for a new bridge. The approved designers were Charles Barry, who had designed the Houses of Parliament after the fire of 1834, and Thomas Page. Work began in 1854 and the new bridge was opened in 1862. It was decided to build it on the same site, but twice the width, so one new half was built upstream of the old, whilst the old bridge still functioned, and that was then replaced by the other half. It cost £400,000.

This is the seven span bridge we see today. It’s painted a traditional green colour to reflect the colour of the seats in the House of Commons, the Parliament chamber nearest the bridge. The nearest bridge upstream is Lambeth Bridge, which is painted red after the colour of the seats in the nearby House of Lords. Another feature of the bridge are the roadside panels on the four central piers showing crests of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Westminster Bridge was formerly a finishing point in the London Marathon.

The bridge spans the river near the famous London landmarks of Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.

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.