ESTMINSTER BRIDGE is an elegant design by Mr. Page, the engineer of the equally beautiful bridge, the Victoria, at Chelsea. It is perhaps fortunate that Mr. Page met with considerable opposition in his original design, which consisted of semicircular arches, Mr. Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, insisting upon the elliptical form as more in character with his splendid building. Fortunately Mr. Page remodelled his design to the present beautiful structure, which is chiefly of iron resting upon granite piers. There are seven elliptical arches, the centre one with a span of 120 feet, the two immediately next 115 feet, and the two following 104 feet 6 inches, and the terminal arches 94 feet. The piers being 100 by 10 feet, the entire width of the bridge is 83 feet, 53 for double carriage way and 5 feet for each footway. The bridge was commenced in 1854, and partly opened to the public in 1860. The first stone of the former bridge, the second stone bridge in point of time over the Thames at London, was laid in the year 1738, and the bridge was publicly opened in 1750. It was built by Charles Labelye, and consisted of fifteen arches, with an entire length of 1,223 feet, and a width of 44 feet. The cost of the bridge was 170,700 pounds for the approaches and 218,800 pounds for the structure, or a total of 389,500 pounds.
In August, 1846, in consequence of the giving way of some of the piers, it was found necessary to close the bridge not only for carriages but to foot passengers. Portions of the enormous mass of masonry were then removed, and the bridge at the same time itself considerably lowered, but the original mistake in building it on caissons could not be overcome, and a new bridge became an absolute necessity. At one period great opposition was made by the citizens of London to a second bridge over the Thames at or near London, and the objection was carried to such a point that in 1671 when a bill for building a bridge over the Thames at Putney was brought into Parliament it was rejected.
Herring JH. Thames Bridges from London to Hampton Court, with Topographical Descriptions from Best Known Authorities, H.R. Pinder, London, 1874.
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