Early Photo Of The Thames To Go On Show

Hungerford Bridge c.1845. Photograph by William Henry Fox Talbot,  Museum of London ref IN4788

Hungerford Bridge c.1845. Photograph by William Henry Fox Talbot,
Museum of London ref IN4788

This remarkable photograph from the dawn of photography will go on show at the forthcoming Bridge exhibition, at Museum of London Docklands. William Henry Fox Talbot’s shot of Old Hungerford Bridge shows Brunel’s river crossing between Waterloo and Charing Cross in the year it opened, 1845.

This is the oldest photograph in the museum’s collection, and is so delicate that it has never been on public display before. Francis Marshall, curator of Bridge describes the image: “By contrasting the old barges in the foreground with Brunel’s new iron bridge, Fox Talbot highlights the technological advances of the 19th century. The photographic process he pioneered would dominate image-making for the next 150 years, until the dawn of digital photography. In a way, he is responsible for the way in which we see the world today. Ironically, Brunel’s bridge was demolished within fifteen years to make way for a railway crossing.”

Although the bridge was largely replaced, the brick support structures are still in situ, supporting the modern railway bridge and connected to the Jubilee footbridges.

Bridge runs at Museum of London Docklands 27 June-2 November 2014. We’ll have more on the exhibition and associated events soon.

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  • Badgerman

    When the bridge was demolished the chain links were salvaged by Brunel and reused on another of his designs the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol where they still are today. (Sadly Brunel did not see the links reinstalled as he died before the Clifton bridge was completed.)