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Everything you need to know about Waterloo Bridge

Written by
Katie Wignall

You may have walked across it loads of times but how much do you really know about one of London's most central bridges? Look Up London's Katie takes a closer look.  


A photo posted by Matt Pretty (@mattpretty) on

It's not the original

First things first, this is the second version of Waterloo Bridge. The original one opened in 1817 but gained the sad notoriety of being a popular suicide spot. From the 1880s it was clear the bridge needed repair work and in the 1920s it was closed and the LCC decided to demolish it and commission another.

It's known as the Ladies' Bridge

The company put in charge was Rendel Palmer and Tritton who, because it was WWII, had a largely female workforce. This was overlooked at the time and throughout history, mainly because the wartime censorship of the project meant very little records were kept. However a recent documentary by Chris Hall and Karen Livesey shed more light on women behind the work.

It was an extra kick in the teeth then when Herbert Morrison, in December 1945, opened Waterloo Bridge declaring: 'The men who built Waterloo Bridge are fortunate men. They know that although their names may be forgotten, their work will be a pride and use to London for many generations to come.' Ouch. 

It has pretty epic views

Because of its placement in a large bend of the Thames, looking East provides a cracking view of the London skyline. 


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But don't forget to cast your eyes westward, too...


A photo posted by Ali Monazah (@artphotomagazine) on

Don't expect much from the information panels

Installed in March 1986, the panels are a bit battered and – given the constant update of London's skyline – they're in need of a major update.

Photo by Look Up London

It's a street-art hub

Around the Southbank Centre there's plenty of changing street art, but you might also have spotted blue swallow mosaic panels near the bridge. They're the work of Southbank Mosaics and symbolise freedom and responsibility. 

Photo by Look Up London

And the art deco logo of the National Film Museum is mounted on the south-west side.


A photo posted by 🔺🔸▫️🔹 (@natasha_adamou) on

It also leads to London's most exclusive hotel room, 'A Room for London', commissioned by Artangel in 2012.

Photo by Look Up London


And if the views, art and history don't sway you, there's also the Southbank Centre book market open daily underneath.


A photo posted by DIAN Claveria (@angeldc04) on

For more London history, here's everything you need to know about Cabmen's Shelters.

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