London Bridge Isn’t The Only One Falling Down


Google ‘London Bridge’ and see what comes up.

When I was researching the 19th Bryant & May book ‘Oranges & Lemons’, I started branching off on my hunt for unusual corners of the city’s history, and realised that I was storing ideas for another book which would become the next novel, ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’. This research came out of the nursery rhyme material that’s in ‘O&L’ and proved fascinating stuff; for example, the way in which children’s songs were used to convey political messages across counties.

It made me think about bridges in general, their symbolism and history. They’re connections, but their removal becomes a symbol of war. This week, an article about London’s bridges appeared in the New York Times, saying that they really are falling down. Decades of underfunding has resulted in the poor stopgap maintenance of Vauxhall Bridge, London Bridge and particularly Hammersmith Bridge. All three are suffering closures (Hammersmith’s is particularly long) while repairs are made.

The Times is being a little disingenuous, for this is nothing new. Bridges are always in need of repair, and an earlier London Bridge was actually pulled down by Vikings in boats in 1014. I remember that in the 1970s Hammersmith Bridge was always being closed to traffic because so much of it was rusted through. Bridges in general have limited lifespans or suffer from poor engineering, as we saw in Genoa, where 43 people were killed when their suspension bridge collapsed.

Hammersmith & Fulham council look after a very wealthy catchment area, and there are accusations that the government does not want to be seen spending fortunes on rich neighbourhoods when they’re trying to level up the national economy. The problem is also due to the materials used in bridges like the one at Hammersmith, being iron, not steel, which rusts and fractures as it heats and cools.

Hammersmith Bridge is a very pretty 19th century dinosaur, entirely unsuited to today’s needs, but to widen or replace it is virtually impossible. Any temporary fixes are expensive and take ages to construct. All bridges must be closed from time to time, but Hammersmith Bridge, like its wealthier sister Chelsea Bridge, is unusually narrow and problematic. Under the tarmac lay wooden blocks that wore badly, and although many bridges are designed to be flexible, the suspension bridges cause tiny fractures that expand as water gets in.

But the British are very good about allowing themselves to be held back by nostalgia. If London is a city suffering from its past, it is also a city that has made some staggeringly wrong decisions, tearing down buildings that could be perfectly well repurposed.

When London Bridge faced a similar not-fit-for-purpose problem in the 1970s the rather plain existing bridge was sold off to an enterprising American who used it as the centrepiece of his Lake Havasu development, where it became a huge success and looked a lot more attractive there than it did here. We’ve always under-recognised our bridges; Google ‘London Bridge’ and see what comes up!

London Bridge, not the bizarre Victorian gothic Tower Bridge, is the heart of London. Tower Bridge is a fake; stone cladding over steel, turrets and a walkway which are merely fussy dressing. But without London Bridge it’s safe to say there would have been no London, because the Romans made it their first crossing point.

There are over 200 bridges, 27 tunnels, six public ferries, one cable car link, and one ford along the 346 km course of the Thames. For me the most fascinating non-central areas are around Shepperton, where there are private islands and harbours and everyone seems to own a boat even though their houses are in permanent danger of flooding. At the opposing end of the city’s reach there’s the stretch of land heading toward Southend on the North shore, where flat-bottomed sailing barges still ford the estuary.

Few cities are so defined by their river. London may appear somewhat like Budapest, which is split into two cities by the Danube, but for centuries the Thames defined the nature of its people, North and South. The massive high-end building redevelopments in the city, apartments geared around being close to work, came to define the start of the new century. They may now have to change as the population proves reluctant to be in offices anymore. A partial dispersal of residents may yet prove to be a Good Thing.

‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ will be out next year, by which time it should have been shored up once more. As for Hammersmith Bridge, until major investment is made it will continue to be a poor makeshift version of what the city really deserves.


Weirdly, I open Private Eye and find a similar article today about ‘sagging’ Hammersmith Bridge. A victim of ‘funding cuts and paralysing indecision’. The repair bill will be £120 million.

65 comments on “London Bridge Isn’t The Only One Falling Down”

  1. Peter T says:

    What’s the easiest way to cut this year’s costs? Stop maintenance. But next year? That’s someone else’s problem. British Rail tried it on the Forth Rail Bridge. A year or so later, Railtrack had to pay extra to catch up.

  2. Roger says:

    Hammersmith Bridge has the distinction that the IRA tried to blow it up three times. None of them did anything like as much damage as a French lorry-driver who went over it in a vehicle way over its weight limit.
    I walk past it regularly and since it was closed to pedestrians I kick it as hard as I can. It has shown no response – let alone collapsing – much to my disappointment.
    In many films from the 1940s and 50s Hammersmith Bridge features as it is just outside Riverside Studios, where many cheap British films were made. If any action takes place on a bridge or a riverbank it’s poften just by Haammersmith Bridgr.

  3. snowy says:

    I know I like a bit of ‘twidley’ but the original 1825 bridge looked better.

    ~~~a little light looking up later~~~

    Looks expensive, the current bridge reused the old footings from the original, not a happy choice given the exponential growth in traffic.

    Big row between H&F and TfL over who is going to pay. If they can stretch it out long enough it might fall down of it’s own accord.

  4. Jan says:

    Unfortunately this bridge HAS had it essentially loads of microfractures they were found in 2014 which brought about it’s closure to bus and vehicle traffic. Now you can’t even walk across it. The structure is apparently really full of corrosion I’m pretty sure( not 100%) that is was a pretty rare visible contribution to London by Sir Joseph Bazalgette. Joe’s big contribution being the formation of the sewer and storm drain conversion of London’s tributary rivers. Fantastic bloke Sir B.

    H+ FC has had contractors spraying the bridge with cold water regularly this ain’t a good situation at all. There’s a right old Row going on with TFL ‘re funding repairs as Snows says.

    Another interesting bridge just along the River to the East is the lovely romantic when lit up @ night Albert Bridge. A real smasher. Thing is about Albert Bridge it’s not far from Chelsea barracks and there used to be- not sure if its been preserved -a sign ordering soldiers from the barracks to break step i.e. Not march over this bridge cos it did really give it some problems. If I tell you the nickname of the bridge was “The Trembling Lady” you’ll probably get the drift.

    Interesting wot you say about the Shepperton eyots Chris.

    The early people generally viewed River Islands, if not especially the casual wear you understand, to be sacred places. Places of real importance. I always think it’s odd that the concept of Arcadia which was endorsed by the King and members of the high establishment centred around a part of the Thames which has a real abundance of eyots. These places make for a fantastic days walking. That would be an interesting back drop for a B+M the Thames eyots and if you read round Arcadia as well you’ll see what I’m getting at.

    Remember the tidal reach of the Thames because of the docks, the creation of the Embankment, canal building etc has really changed the river. In Roman times it was supposed to have been tidal up to about Staines. Now the tidal Thames ends at Teddington locks.

    Think of Westminster Thorney island a sacred island created by the confluence of the Tyburn and Thames it’s a great topic really interesting. Site of a Royal palace pre parliament and a right big old Abbey! Which incidentally had a waterwheel grinding wheat for bread powered by a modification of the Tyburns flow.

    Best I stop chirping have got to get to work. Hope all well. Best Jan x

  5. snowy says:

    Citizens of London can now relax, the Department of Transport have waded in to save the day*, by setting up a ‘Taskforce’. Under the control of the Minister for Transport: Grant “I’m definitely not Dodgy” Schapps aka ‘Michael Green’ aka ‘Sebastian Fox’ aka ‘Corinne Stockheath’ aka ‘Pinocchio’.

    Currently the leading idea is to construct a second parallel bridge to restore traffic flows while the current bridge is repaired, or they build a tunnel or put up giant waterslides or train swans to swim in formation across the river forming a feathery footpath or something else entirely…

    [This project will have of course have to be fitted around the many other demands on the Minister’s time: editing his own Wikipedia page, off the books second jobs in the private sector that he definitely doesn’t have and doing ‘Biggles’ impressions in his little plane.]

    [*As of 10/09/2020]

  6. Brooke says:

    Mr. Fowler–the year is not lost. Clarke’s new “novel” arrives; fawning reviews in the usual reviewing sites.

  7. Roger says:

    It was {is?} army regulations that soldiers should break step crossing a suspension bridge, Jan. One of the first suspension bridges, Broughton Suspension Bridge, collapsed when soldiers were marching across it. The collapse was attributed to mechanical resonance cused by the soldiers’ marching rhythm..

  8. admin says:

    Brooke, are you talking about Susanna Clarke’s ‘Piranesi’? It’s had interesting reviews…

  9. Martin Tolley says:

    Susanna Clarke – ooh. Really tried with Johnathan Strange… got to page 30-something about four times. Life’s too short.

  10. Ian Luck says:

    I’ve read ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ three times, now, and enjoyed it more each time.
    I have just finished Andrew Cartmel’s latest ‘Vinyl Detective’ novel, and mention is made on that of the delay of an ambulance caused by the closure of Hammersmith bridge.

  11. Wayne Mook says:

    Snowy do you think they could use the giant hovercrafts to move lorries across the river?

    Jan – I remember going on about the eyots or aits in a previous post. Thorney Island still has a society, Thorney Island Society even though it’s no longer an island but may well have the oldest garden in the country. Fascinating.

    In Manchester the river Irwell really does create two cities, the twin cities of Manchester and Salford, sort of like St Paul and Minnesota.


  12. Roger says:

    “May you have interesting reviews!” – author’s curse?

  13. Jan says:

    Wayne I have been researching London’s lost rivers rivers for ages these were the rivers Bazalgette converted into sewers and storm drains (which had always gone on in a piece meal fashion but to convert the lot – genius!) After a bit it became apparent that these Thames tributaries actually form most of London’s Borough borders it’s such an interesting topic.

    I hadn’t ever Twigged that it was the Irwell that was the actual border between Manchester and Salford! Doh!

    The Irwells waters were used to create the Manchester Ship Canal weren’t they? In Irlam my home town there’s a remaining section of the Irwell it’s not long maybe in full about 1/3 mile (possibly less )its called the “Old River” I never really understood the significance of the name as a kid. It runs parallel to the Manchester Ship. The other way round really if you think about it. There’s an old pub “The Boathouse” right beside the Old River. Nice pub.

    Such a weird phenomenon the twin cities. Really the cities arose because of “Cottonopolis” the @ the time unique situation which arose around the world’s first wave of industrialisation which just pulled people in to the mills from.all over the shop. It’s funny as a kid I remember looking at all the old mills around Paticroft and towards town and i actually worked in a converted mill which was used as a base for a catalogue business – which lots of them were I think. I did a filing clerk job there. They were such massive spaces, vast. Looking back I realise the old mills were all built around the Bridgewater canal which originally transported coal from near Worsley (the clay orange canal near Worsley – Walkden way !!) and had nowt to do with the Manchester Ship @ all. Two different waves of industrial development.

    Still watching that show about Manchester’s conversion into wannabe Manhattan! I wrote about it on here somewhere a bit back.

    Dunno if you picked up on the msg or steered clear because of work. I am sorry if I put you on the spot if was work consideration I should have known better! SORRY!

  14. Brooke says:

    Yes, Clarke’s Piranesi.

    @Martin T. Re: JS & MN. I’m with you; but I could only make it to p. 20.

    @Ian. I usually like your recommendation. What turned you on about S&N?

  15. admin says:

    The author’s curse is actually ‘May you live longer than your back catalogue.’

  16. snowy says:

    Re: Hovercraft

    Absolutely anything is possible, I’m sure GIN* have a few knocking about.

    Re: Rivers

    Not all rivers are rivers, well sort of, [it gets complicated].

    Faulkner, in his “History of Fulham” (1813), in speaking of the separation of Hammersmith from Fulham, and its erection into an ecclesiastical district, remarks, “When the inhabitants of Fulham and the inhabitants of Hammersmith did mutually agree to divide the parish, it was also agreed that a ditch should be dug as a boundary between them, it being the custom of those days to divide districts in this manner, whereupon a ditch was dug for the above purposes. This watercourse,” he adds, “begins a little to the west of the elegant seat of the late Bubb Dodington, Esq. [Brandenburgh House]; there it is formed into canals, fish-ponds, &c.; out of his garden it crosseth the road from Fulham Field to Hammersmith, and so in a meandering course bearing westerly and northerly, it crosseth the London Road opposite the road leading to Brook Green, and from thence, on the north side of the London Road, it runs easterly, and falls into Chelsea Creek, at Counter’s Bridge.”

    [* Graylings Invisible Navy

    The previous Transport Minister Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling gave £13m to a company called Seaborne Freight to provide ferry services, despite them having never operated a ferry and not owning a single boat.

    People should not be particularly surprised given his track record of stupid ideas, current estimates of the cost of his cock-ups comes to £2.7bn.

    He is apparently currently sulking because they didn’t make him Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, {who says irony is dead?} ]

  17. Peter T says:

    Can we learn from the Victorians? They found the previous bridge inadequate after only 50 years and they replaced it. Reanalysis (a poor engineer has to earn a crust somehow) shows the replacement not to be fit for purpose after a 140 years of changes and advances that no one could imagine in Victorian times. And what do we do in an age where our leaders claim they want to invest in great capital projects? Apart from talk and pass the problem on to someone else, we do zilch. Perhaps it really does need an intelligence committee?

  18. Mike says:

    I’ve also tried JS & MN twice and gave up around page 30 both times.
    Just read 8 Detectives and found it abysmal.
    Far too reliant on extremely unlikely coincidence and happenings.
    I’m afraid it stretched credulity too far, didn’t enjoy it one bit.
    I skimmed the last quarter (merely to find out if I was correct about the forthcoming twist)
    Not recommended

  19. Brooke says:

    “Eight Detectives”… described as “metafictional debut novel.” Says it all.

  20. Trace Turner says:

    In the town of St Augustine, 30 miles south of where I live, is the Bridge of Lions that connects St Augustine with Anastasia Island. The original was built in the 1920’s in a Mediterranean style to complement the style of the big hotels nearby. After the bridge was declared deficient and obsolete, plans were made to tear down and replace. Fortunately, the new bridge looks very much like the old one with the central towers and the lions from the original bridge. Just because something new has to be built doesn’t mean that the past has to be erased.

  21. Ian Luck says:

    Brooke – The denseness of it appealed – plus, what’s not to like about grumpy North Country magicians? It’s difficult to say, but it just grabbed me. I enjoyed it as I had Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’. Again, dense, but a dauntingly big book that was easy to read, and made me think. It’s a difficult question to answer – a bit like: “Why do you enjoy the sunrise?” The best answer I could give to that is that I just do, and it makes me happy.

  22. Jan says:


    I realise that it is PROPER PROPER SAD knowing this stuff… but there has been since the medieval period widespread modification of the London Tributary Rivers often involving adding channels modifying channels and building ditches. The waterwheel at Westminster Abbey received its water through a modification of a branch of the Tyburn which does look weirdly straight for a natural watercourse on old maps!

    The Walbrook was culverted in the 14C in the City Of London it runs beneath the Bank of England and both ends of the Neckinger in Sarf London were connected to the Thames the Neckinger “rises” at the back of the Imperial War museum and was connected to the Thames and quite a big bridge was built there now the remains of this Bridge and the river “extension” are incorporated into the sewer system. The whole of this structure now being underground.

    Oddly enough the Neckinger is thought by geologists to be the remains of an Oxbow Lake rather than a true tributary river so had to be physically connected to the Thames at both ends. The other end being at the Dock (St Olaves ) part of The Pool of London well just at its eastern end. The guys responsible for many of these early modifications to the tributary river system being lay brothers from Bermondsey Abbey. A group of navvies by all accounts these old lads also modified the route of the Effra.

    The usage of constructed ditches to form borders IS interesting and took place outside London as well as within the villages eventually comprising the capital. The reason could be simply replicating the natural “barriers” or borders followed elsewhere.

    This is pitiful knowing this kinda stuff I know ….shameful going back to work soon you are not gonna hear another peep out of me.

  23. snowy says:

    If you a going to be a geek about something, be proud about it!

    Before the arrival of Steam there were only 3 forms of power: wind, water and sweat. Water ground corn for centuries and would power the Industrial Revolution. Cromford Mill is just one the best known examples, birthplace of the Cotton Industry.

    That straight bit is a leat, or leet, even back when it was made they knew if they wanted the fastest flow the water had to run in a straight channel and not be slopping about round corners and up the sides.

    [The principal advantage of a ditch is that you can’t sneak out every night and move it a couple of feet to make your land bigger.]

  24. Martin Tolley says:

    Agree with Snowy (as often). Jan, you’m a proper geek, and you should be proud, NEVER sad. The main problem with the world these days is that people seem to know NOTHING about anything. I salute the folk who gather here who share their acres and acres (hectares?) of arcane knowledge about things I didn’t know that I didn’t know anything about.

  25. snowy says:

    The waters become muddy; Edward Walford writes that the Neckinger wasn’t a river but a tidal stream.

    [A note of explanation for those not Jan or I, a tidal stream has a reversible flow, water flows up when the tide rises in the larger river until it runs out of puff reaches equilibrium and then runs down again as the tide falls. The water can be trapped, similar in to the way that rockpools do. ]

    The following quote is rather long but cutting it is… difficult without losing context.

    A glance at a map of London of half a century ago—or, indeed, much more recently—will show that nearly the whole of the land hereabouts consisted of market-gardens and open fields. At a short distance eastward of the Upper Grange Road, and south of the Blue Anchor Road, stood a windmill, the site of which is now covered by part of Lynton Road.

    On the east side of the abbey enclosures was the farm known as “The Grange,” after which the Grange Road and Grange Walk are named; and near the Grange wound the narrow tide-stream or ditch called the Neckinger, which was here spanned by a bridge. The Neckinger was formerly navigable, for small craft, from the Thames to the abbey precincts, and gives name to the Neckinger Road.

    When the abbey was destroyed, and the ground passed into the possession of others, the houses which were built on the site still received a supply of water from this water-course. In process of time tanneries were established on the spot, most probably on account of the valuable supply of fresh water obtainable every twelve hours from the river.

    “There appears reason to believe,” says Charles Knight, “that the Neckinger was by degrees made to supply other ditches, or small water-courses, cut in different directions, and placed in communication with it; for, provided they were all nearly on a level, each high tide would as easily fill half a dozen as a single one. Had there been no mill at the mouth of the channel, the supply might have gone on continuously; but the mill continued to be moved by the stream, and to be held by parties who neither had nor felt any interest in the affairs of the Neckinger manufacturers.

    Disagreements thence arose; and we find that, towards the end of the last century, the tanners of the central parts of Bermondsey instituted a suit against the owner of the mill for shutting off the tide when it suited his own purpose so to do to the detriment of the leather manufacturers. The ancient usages of the district were brought forward in evidence, and the result was that the right of the inhabitants to a supply of water from the river, at every high tide, was confirmed to the discomfiture of the millowner.

    Since that period there were occasional disagreements between the manufacturers and the owners of the mill respecting the closing of sluicegates, the repair and cleansing of the ditch, and the construction of wooden bridges across it; but the tide, with few exceptions, still continued to flow daily to and fro from the Thames to the neighbourhood of the Grange and Neckinger Roads.

    Many of the largest establishments in Bermondsey were for years dependent on the tide-stream for the water—very abundant in quantity—required in the manufacture of leather. Other manufacturers, however, constructed artesian wells on their premises, while the mill at the mouth of the stream was worked by steam power, so that the channel itself became much less important than in former times. Latterly this ditch, or ‘tide-stream,’ as it was sometimes called, was under the management of commissioners, consisting of the principal manufacturers, who were empowered to levy a small rate for its maintenance and repair.”

    [Another reference, [that I’m unable to source], suggests that it was originally dug as a land drain for St Georges fields and buildings were then constructed nearby because of the new supply of water.]

  26. Jan says:

    I know I promised but briefly b4 I go 2 work – when theres more time I ‘ll probably chirp up once more…..

    Reading the geologists work against the historical accounts is proper interesting this idea about a tidal streams is valid but you have got to bear in mind that the lay bros/ navvies working out of the Bermondsey public works Abbey put their Thames connections in really very early on. So they created tidal activity on the Neckinger that may not have been there without the human albeit divinely inspired intervention. Basically nearly all South central London was extensively MARSHLAND. This land was drained piecemeal but not in a wide and effective scale until the 19C.

    If you weren’t on a hill you were ***ed basically + the Neckingers route is particularly FLAT.

    I have walked the Neckinger from the area at the rear of Imperial War museum (which was incidentally the 2nd site of the notorious Bedlam hospital) and it flows into a road called Brook road or street can’t quite remember which is pretty much shaped like the Neckingers route. this road has still got very high kerbs and pavements relative to road way height and massive grids and drainage indicating flooding is still a possibility.

    You follow this road down toward Elephant and Castle where the Borough border created by the “river” is situated carry on East and you come on to the area of the tanneries and the Victorian slum that was known as Jacobs Island. This was a truly rotten place which Dickens reckoned was the worse slum in London outdoing anything the East End had to offer – which was going some. Dickens was a right old stroller in an attempt to exercise away his depression.

    Jacobs islands was where Bill Sykes and Nancy lived in Oliver Twist although the film features the area over to the East the old Docks near where the other created end of the Neckinger lies.

    It’s a truly fascinating river I have written about it a fair bit on Facebook on a group called London’s Springs Wells and Waterways. I have included loads of photographs.
    if you can Snows access the old photos of the Neckinger featuring all the old barges it’s a real eyeopener! That it existed so late above ground. One of the easiest things to forget is that the Thames tributaries were tidal for quite considerable distances.

  27. Ken Mann says:

    Curious that you should mention Budapest, as one of the bridges over the Danube there is by the same engineer as Hammersmith Bridge, as just about every local tour guide mentions when they hear your English accent.

  28. Brooke says:

    @ Ian. Well said and I take your point–that is, about just enjoying something. Can’t comment on North Country magicians, not having met any during my travels; at least no one who introduced themselves as such.

  29. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – never, ever be afraid to be a ‘geek’, or a ‘spod’, or even good, old-fashioned eccentric. Who wants to be a sheep? Certainly not me. I’m a self confessed ‘Tank Bore’. Does it bother me? Not in the slightest. I’m geeky about lots of things – obscure TV shows, old vinyl records, the many TV shows of Gerry Anderson, ancient synthesisers, Doctor Who, badges, old model kits, comic art, trees, follies, military bunkers, beer, cheese, tea, and nuts (edible). And why not? I have a fairly boring job, and it’s good just to switch off occasionally, and think of something else. It’s also fun to impart some (in the grand scheme of things) utterly useless knowledge on to people, sometimes. If that makes me a spod, then so be it.

  30. Brooke says:

    Jan, what Ian said. Inspired by your posts and Snowy’s comments, listened to Ackroyd’s Thames again–all nine hours.

  31. Peter T says:

    Jan, Can we look forward to an interesting monograph? All of us would enjoy it.

  32. snowy says:

    Lady J will re-appear in due course to shed more welcome light, without doubt.

    So… Cheese, I am the possessor of the world’s smallest wheel of ‘Nettle Cheese’, [for wheel read castor, I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely terrible, I suspect I over-pressed it, but the raw materials only cost 10p.]

    And… Nuts, well seeds are quite like nuts… well-ish, next to it are 4oz of Alliaria petiolata seeds that are destined to make a mustard.

    [I’m still a little bit at a loss as to the exact mystical significance of a ditch that floods twice a day, on that basis my bog must be bloody magical!]

    [Crosses that miraculously descended from Heaven near the Abbey in 1172 not withstanding.]

  33. Jan says:

    Snowy here have you been reading Ben Aaranovitch’s books “The River of London”? It’s a real flatterer to be termed Lady J a bit like Lady Ty – Tyburn in these smashing books! I dunno how
    widely these books are known. I hope you were referencing these stories I might just be being a wazuck here!

    I think they must be pretty popular these books. The stories are based around some fantastic ideas the main theme being that the lead has been recruited into part of the Metropolitan Police Force tasked with dealing with Magic and there’s a whole group of characters (and they are real characters with personality a counterpart physical body, foibles, likes and dislikes) these characters being the Thames and each of its tributaries. Peter Grant the probationer in the Magic C.I.D. is in a relationship with one of the rivers Beverley Brook (of course!) His X who was his colleague on team @ Charing X Nick has become a “baddy” in the series. I am quite a few books behind in the series but would really recommend them as a brilliant read for any body not just the young market – smashing books

    And thanks for all the nice things people said about me interest in the Thames tribs. It’s one of those things where it’s pretty difficult to gauge whether you’re being a pain in the arse or not. I’m really proper interested in them and have got loads of gopping theories about how London is created by the siting of its wells, “lost rivers” even possibly by its ancient megalithic stones and sacred sites but wouldn’t want to assume anyone felt the same way!
    But was really nice what people said nevertheless. Thankyou.

  34. Jan says:

    just one last quickie point taking us right back to Chris’s original post about Hammersmith Bridge.

    One of the Bridges nearby to FD bridge is Putney bridge. Prior to Putney bridge it was Fulham bridge at the same site (don’t worry we’re getting to the point shortly) now both Putney and it’s predecessor are believed to be unique in.the UK as it’s believe they are the only bridges which have parish churches (one at least being of very ancient origins ) at either end of the Bridge span.

    Fully expecting lots of folk to come up with contrary evidence here but it is surprisingly that as a general rule this holds true. Possibly because rivers themselves – particularly the Thames- were viewed as being sacred.

    You can get even a major ancient church in one side of a bridge like St Mary Overie now Southwark cathedral on the approach to London Bridge but rarely at either end of a bridges span. Weird that isn’t it? Big thoroughfare possibly but unlikely to.have a church in either edge of bridge.

  35. snowy says:

    Jan, I was passed one of BA’s RoL books, not my usual fare, [I suffer from a tiny touch of ‘Magic Intolerance’], it’s generally well written, with a few minor reservations.

    But um… by a stroke of ill luck I happened to know the location, tolerably well.

    Lets just say I don’t think he ever got his boots dirty when he was doing the research…

  36. Helen Martin says:

    Oh, dear, just as I was starting to become interested in those River books, having read one and enjoyed it. I don’t resist magic but do like accuracy.
    Jan, don’t ever worry about boriing us – I don’t think you could. Anyone who is can just skip over it.
    We have to prebook library books so I’m going to see what there is of the Forgotten Authors in our collection.

  37. Jan says:

    Snowy do you mean the location of his bosses home \ HQ in Holborn \Bloomsbury? Or did you find fault with The novel set in the underground system? I had some reservations about The volume(s) set in Mayfair + Soho but none of the errors were too tragic.

    The only one I couldn’t get on with was the one set in Herefordshire – territory covered in a much more interesting way by Phil Rickman in the ‘Merrily Watkins’ series. I really like those novels.

    Someone’s clued Aaranovitch up pretty thoroughly about the job he writes about the uniform + specialist teams set up pretty well. He did/does write for tv series I think and has contributed episodes to Dr Who. he does job dialogue pretty well. Can’t comment about the quality of the spells!

  38. snowy says:

    In the one I was given he gets the geography completely and spectacularly wrong, most readers will never spot it, but if you do know the landscape, your brain goes “Wait what? Hang on! You can’t get from… to… without going over… that! ” – “That’s completely wrong that thing isn’t there… it’s 4 miles away from that other thing” etc.

    If it keeps happening page after page, it throws you completely out of the story and it is hard to keep your belief suspended.

    [I probably wouldn’t read another, only because… it’s a bit Woo-Woo, but there is nothing terribly wrong with them.]

  39. Ian Luck says:

    Interestingly, Ben Aaronovitch’s unpredictable Lady Ty, appears in a cameo in the latest ‘Vinyl Detective’ novel, by Andrew Cartmel (who was script editor on Doctor Who at the time when Ben Aaronovitch wrote the superb ‘Remembrance Of The Daleks’.

  40. Wayne Mook says:

    Jan – I’ve not been on the computer as much as I’d like, I’ve been in the office, which is a bit odd, almost empty with the distancing. Plus the wife needed it more then me. I’ve been using my phone which doesn’t suit the rambles I do on here. It looks like my internet is better and I’m working from home more.

    I’d meant to reply about the Manctopia but it’s been due to not getting on here as I would like, not work or avoidance plus the little one went back to school and 2 weeks ago and I’m on my second cold/chest infection so have been layed low – sleeping more, how I’ve missed getting these. In Manchester this has happened before with the rich moving in forcing out the poor and tearing down the buildings. In ten to 20 years everyone will move out, it’ll look like it’s dying, the artists & poor will move in and the cycle begins again. Some of the big brutalist building of the 60s & 70s have gone in this purge of Manchester architecture. The change is really rapid like the did in the 60/70s. Still they’ve always done it, from Roman the Norman times the town moved a mile, nobodies quite sure how and when and why. The church (now cathedral) was moved in the 1200s to it’s present site, nobody know where the old site was. usually it’s the poor who are messed about and shifted around, Hattersley anyone?

    The Duke’s Grand Worsley Canal, I do like the orange section, there was also supposed to be iron ore and/or iron making in the area and part of the orange is supposed to be due to rust, but it was built for coal but I do like a good rumour. Some hidden underground stuff in Worsley as well.

    The London rivers, islands and so on are fascinating, be as informative as you can, or else it’s swede/turnip recipes again. In Manc the only underground river I know is the Tibb, goes under the Midland hotel. The library is where the old St. Peter’s Church was (the fields of the Peterloo massacre were near here) the catacombs are still down there and the river is below them. There are quite a few brooks that have disappeared in Stretford in the last few decades, quite odd really. we had some sinking houses near Kellogg’s on the edge of Trafford Park a good number of decades back.

    The Irwell although a canal is closer to a navigable river, parts they just straitened, it was given charter as a canal, one of the first. Sankey Brook which was made under the auspices of a navigable river is closer to a proper canal than the original Bridgewater canal, bur Brindley was noted for following the contours of the land more.

    On the subject of new towers and the rise of Mnactopia,a smaller one, only about 10 stories on the Irwell has been partially demolished due to an engineering fault in the roof, the way they have been pulling it apart doesn’t look good. We also have a gang war in Cheatham Hill again, shootings and machete attacks, some things never change. My granddad told me Cheatham Hill was the same before the war with gangs.

    I think it’s time for bed, night. I did mean to go back and read comments, thwarted again.


  41. Jan says:

    No probs Wayne sorry to hear you’ve been feeling rubbishy. Things are definitely not too gr8 + all this talk about teetering on the edge of a 2nd wave isn’t exactly cheering!

    I dunno if it was you who pointed me in the right direction but someone got me looking at the guy whose the Urban explorer he gets about up around Mcr and Salford. He got into Agecroft power station which I can clearly remember from Ted Heath v. The Miners strike of 1973 onwards which carried on and off through to the late seventies. This exploring guy also pulls the plug out of the canal in central Manchester the results being gobsmacking.

    I wasn’t aware the internecine territorial drugs dealing dispute was back on its feet and fighting again. Am really out of the loop with all this crap now (thank Christ) but it’s not good and certainly not making the work of urban regeneration go any easier.

    I went on an exploration of Manchester with the Ley liners a couple of years back. It really is hard for me to get my head around ancient Roman Manchester but it’s still there. Just find it hard to get somehow. The speakers were on about the Tibb and they reckoned that Deansgate itself could have been a remnant built atop of something much older. I can’t really remember the full details it was interesting but lots of it pretty unlikely. We did visit that old well which may even hark back to pre Roman times which is sort of off Picadilly. N side.

    I hadn’t thought of it before but you are right about the regeneration and degradation of Manchester being set on fast forward it’s a really interesting thought that and there’s real truth in it. I wonder why? Was it just just the rapid early industrialisation kicking off this cycle or did it exist before then I wonder?

    Stay safe

  42. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – That would be me who put you on to Martin Zero’s channel. Always a good watch, and I’m always pleased to think:
    ‘I did not know that.’, which is my criteria for a worthwhile youtube channel.Martin’s videos are always worth binge watching. Like the videos of ‘steve1989’, who tests military rations, by eating them, no matter what age, Martin’s videos are wonderfully addictive.

  43. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – Martin’s video of ‘The Trapdoor In The Canal’ was recommended, quite randomly, to millions of youtube viewers, most of whom watched it, were fascinated by it, and commented favourably on it, but were puzzled as to why they’d been made aware of it. Martin made a flabbergasted video to thank all who’d watched it, and the large numbers of them who had subscribed because of it. But it is a brilliant video. His joy at seeing this almost mythic trapdoor, that nobody has seen for over 120 years, is wonderful.

  44. Jan says:

    It’s been a good thread this hasn’t it?I

    Thanks for telling me about Marin the explorer Ian.

  45. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – there are many, many people on youtube who do not need to be watched, as they cough out videos with no discernable content. There are also those who put out very well researched and interesting videos, who really need to be watched – Martin Zero (also the alias of the late record producer Martin Hannett), is one of those. Glad you like him, too. I don’t live anywhere near Manchester: I’ve loved a great many bands that came from there (except Oasis), and it’s an endlessly fascinating place.

  46. Jan says:

    What’s the other hidden underground stuff in Worsley Wayne? Is it centred on Worsley Old Hall?

  47. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – I’m just watching Martin Zero’s newest video (number 11 in his river Medlock series) and it’s superb. The start puts a lot of ‘proper’ TV shows to shame. He even does an intro to camera using a handheld microphone, old school style.

  48. snowy says:

    Mention of an ‘Old Hall’ piqued my interest, [nosey besom that I am], my sources are scant, but I did turn up something about a house close by ‘Wardley Hall’.

    “A peculiar interest has long been attached to the house on account of a human skull being kept there. The superstition is that if the skull is moved from its place great storms will follow, to the damage of the dwelling. The skull is in a niche in the wall on the staircase landing, carefully protected by glass and a wooden outer door. Concerning it there are several legends and traditions, but it is now supposed to be that of the Ven. Ambrose Barlow, who served the private chapel at Wardley along with other places in South Lancashire, but was arrested on Easter Sunday, 1641, and executed in the September following at Lancaster. After his execution it is thought that his head may have been secured by Mr. Francis Downes, and preserved by him at Wardley Hall. The story of the skull being that of the last Roger Downes (died 1676) has been disproved.”

    From another source we find the tale of Roger Downes [quoted verbatim]:

    Roger Downs who lived in the 17th century. Roger was a man of ill nature, and according to legend once killed a Taylor in a drunken unprovoked attack, because he had sworn to kill the first person he met. His influence in high society allowed him to literally get away with murder. Eventually Roger picked a fight with somebody more than his equal, and during a drunken brawl on Tower Bridge in London, a watchman (or waterman) severed his head with one stroke. His body was unceremoniously dumped into the River Thames. His head is said to have been delivered to the hall in a wooden box. The story was disproved when his coffin was opened in 1779, as his head was still attached to his body.

    [Treat the second quote with a pinch of salt, Taylor could be a proper name or an occupation and the construction of Tower Bridge wouldn’t begin until 1886.]

    Wardley Hall is the current home of the RC Bish. of Salford, [he’s still got it in a cupboard].

  49. Jan says:

    Not same place at all Snows but it’s odd how many legends there are connecting skulls with old manor houses/Halls.
    There’s one here in West Dorset at Bettiscombe I THINK( though not 100% about this). It’s all very distasteful stuff I think that this screaming skull of Bettiscombe is that of an African slave although again I’m not 100% about this. These legends are all over the shop though there’s a couple in more northern bits of Lancashire plus different ones country wide.

    Lots of legends repeat over and over the sliding megalithic stones are a frequent one as is the church that peop!e want to build in a certain place but the stones keep being moved and reassembled elsewhere. Normally it’s the elsewhere where the place of worship does happen to get built. Pixies often seem to get the blame for this stuff- I suppose someone’s got to get the blame.
    Might as well be them dratted pixies. Not to be trusted pixies. Unpleasant.

    I’m wondering if this underground structure that Wayne’s referring to is in fact a remaining WW2 or Cold War shelter perhaps having some connection with Bridgewaters coal mines. I think I might have heard of something that way on.

  50. Helen Martin says:

    Canals. I wonder how many of them are just straightened streams or parts of same. There’s a rather nice remains of one near the Summerhill Museum in Monkland south of Glasgow. It’s totally dry now but the sides are easy to see and I wonder if anyone ever bought the Waterman Inn that was for sale when we were there. It came with a pub license, too. Would have had a rather nice forecourt if done up. Still, I wonder where that canal went/came from. It was for carrying coal from the mines there. The whole area has been scraped clear and rebuilt since the mines.

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