By SI SPENCER, OCT 2017
A trivial tour of the road and foot crossings over the Thames
HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE In 2015 divers discovered 150 or so blocks of the legendary lost Dove Typeface in the waters beneath the bridge. Having designed one of the most beautiful typefaces of all time, TJ Cobden Sanderson became obsessed with the idea that his business partner would sell the font to the mechanised presses and thus sully its beauty forever – because, y’know, artists. In over more than a hundred secret trips in the dead of night, he stole and dropped every solid iron letter, comma, full stop and exclamation mark into the Thames.
PUTNEY BRIDGE was originally built because MPs and royals were being delayed getting north of the river because the local ferry men were always too inebriated to do their job. In 1795, Mary Wollstonecraft, the first great British feminist tried to kill herself by throwing herself from the bridge after her first husband committed adultery. Mercifully she was rescued and she married again and gave birth to Mary Godwin who as a teenage girl would write ‘Frankenstein’, the first great work of British science fiction.
WANDSWORTH BRIDGE is a drab and unimpressive affair. Painted blue during World War II to camouflage it during air raids, it’s as if the illusion was so good that nobody has noticed it’s still there.
BATTERSEA BRIDGE is like the windmill on a crazy golf course, more obstacle than use. Positioned on a particularly tricky bend of the Thames, it’s closed almost as often as it’s open and has been rebuilt and repaired numerous times after being hit by passing boats.
ALBERT BRIDGE is a thing of beauty at night. The colour scheme of both the bridge and its illuminations have changed a few times in recent years but it’s always a remarkably photogenic structure hence it’s film star status in the movies ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘Absolute Beginners’, ‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘Maybe Baby’. Like many stars though it hides a dark secret – its proximity to the doggy heaven of Battersea Park means that it’s decking is constantly being replaced due to the rotting corrosive effects of thousands of leg-cocking mutts. It’s also known as the Trembling Lady due to its less than solid foundations and troops are ordered to break step when crossing it ‘just in case’.