What Are The Red Pillars Next To Blackfriars Bridge?

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 93 months ago

Last Updated 11 August 2016

What Are The Red Pillars Next To Blackfriars Bridge?

Recently, we asked you what you've always wanted to know about London. Many of you sent in your questions, and we'll do our best to answer them (although we won't be able to answer every one — some things are best left as a mystery).

Photo: shadow_in_the_water

Ever noticed these red pillars in the Thames between Blackfriars road bridge and Blackfriars railway bridge? You can't really miss them in that colour, but what are they?

They formed part of the original railway bridge, built at this point across the Thames in 1864, when the London Chatham Dover Railway was extended across the Thames to what was then St Paul's Station.

The railway bridge was designed by Joseph Cubitt, who was also redesigning the railway bridge next door, and was a very ornate design. It was only four tracks wide, so just 20 years later, the second railway bridge was built next to it to increase capacity to St Paul's Station.

In 1923, suburban railway services began to terminate at Waterloo and the St Paul's Bridge was rarely used. In 1985, the old bridge was declared too weak to support modern trains, and was removed — but the supports were left.  They were used as platforms for equipment in the recent rebuilding of Blackfriars station.

The above photo only shows pairs of red pillars, they originally existed in rows of three (see photos here). The third pillar in each row was absorbed into supporting the new bridge when it was built.

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