Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar

I returned to the Radio Bar at the top of the Hotel ME on Saturday 7th of this month, when the weather was brighter and breezier. I was in a hurry to be back for an appointment at home, and did not have time to really look at what I was photographing, and anyway, my eyesight is poor and I can’t see a lot of it if I want to.

So, for instance, when I took this picture, …:

… I thought I was photographing just the one big, obvious bridge, the one with the towers. But it turned out that I was photographing seven bridges. Newcastle eat your heart out. Sorry about that big white circumcised cock in the foreground, getting in the way. It looks like it’s doing radar, but I doubt that.

Moving on quickly from that, let me itemise the bridges, from nearest to furthest away.

Here is a google map which shows how this picture was possible. Where it says “ME” (photo manipulation is not my strong suit but I did manage to add that), at the far left, is where I was standing, so ME means both me and the hotel of that name. Click on this map to get it bigger:

So, first, nearest to me, on the right of the big white cock, we can see pedestrians crossing the river on Blackfriars Bridge, the road version.

We cannot then see the isolated, do-nothing columns of the Blackfriars Railway Bridge that isn’t, so that doesn’t count. But just beyond those columns, we do clearly see, second, the Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge that is, with its long line of slanting roofs.

Third, we can see the upper parts of the Millenium Bridge (featured in the bottom three pictures here, where there is also another snap of those weird Blackfriars columns), the footbridge that famously wobbled when first opened, which does about half the job of taking pedestrians between Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Fourth, slightly green despite being in the shade, is Southwark Bridge.

Fifth, there is the severely functional railway bridge that takes the trains from the south east over the river to Cannon Street Station. You can just make out a clutch of signals at its left hand end as we look at it.

Sixth, we have “London Bridge”, and I can help adding sneer quotes. What a come-down that bridge is from how London Bridge used to be. No wonder so many people think that Tower Bridge is London Bridge. The actual London Bridge is so boring.

One of the reasons I especially like the new Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge is that it sets a precedent for putting buildings on a London bridge, and makes it more likely that London Bridge itself might one day be rebuilt in something like its former glory. Maybe not quite as tall as it once was, but with buildings on it, like Ponte Vecchio. What would be particularly cool is if, just as in former times, a new London Bridge could be built, strong enough to be a platform for buildings, but if it was then left to individual plot owners to decide exactly what to put on each plot.

And finally, seventh, there is Tower Bridge, at the far right hand end of the map.

London. It just keeps on getting better.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

One thought on “Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar”

  1. Three comments from Michael J:

    After those seven, there is a huge distance to the only one more bridge before the mouth of the river – the Queen Elizabeth bridge at Dartford (which carries M25 traffic but is not technically part of the M25).

    The historical reason for this is that shipping came as far as the Pool of London next to the Tower, but this is in the past now. Not much has happened subsequently, however. New bridges get talked about from time to time, but don’t ever seem to happen.

    There are quite a few tunnels between Tower Bridge and Woolwich (Three tube crossings, two DLR crossings, one London Overground crossing, two road crossings, two pedestrian tunnels, and a Crossrail crossing that is now or shortly will be under construction. I have used the word “crossing” rather than “tunnel” because some of these consist of multiple side by side tunnels rather than just one). There is then nothing whatsoever until that road crossing at Dartford. The Channel Tunnel Rail link goes under the Thames slightly downstream from that, but only carries long distance traffic. It really is quite remarkable how separate the two sides of the Thames are downstream from Woolwich, and how connected they are upstream from that point.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 13 February 2014

    Simon: I used to work at Canary Wharf. All the retail premises were leased by a single corporate landlord, and that landlord clearly liked large corporate tenants. This meant that if you wanted to go out and get a sandwich or a coffee, you had seven outlets of Pret a Manger and nine Starbucks coffee shops to choose from. There’s nothing wrong with Pret a Manger or Starbucks and they should have outlets in such a place, but not to the exclusion of all else. (There’s a Carcluccios in the bottom of the Citigroup building. This has two functions. It sells lots and lots and lots of take away coffee to bankers who want something other than Starbucks or the disgusting stuff from the coffee machines in the office kitchens. Also, headhunters sit at the tables meeting and having coffee with office workers who have nipped out of the office briefly to meet with headhunters. Given that this place is theoretically a restaurant, it sells an extraordinarily small amount of food. Oh Lord, does it sell a lot of coffee though…).

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 13 February 2014

    Actually, for a more interesting shopping mall experience, I would try going to Centrale in Croydon. A lovely new shopping mall designed to be filled with “prestige tenants” (and anchored by a lovely House of Fraser department store) was opened in 2004. This was overambitious for the local market in the first place, and many units were empty even before the economy tanked in 2007-8. After that, the landlords had to give up on prestige tenants and just take anyone they could get. Hence there is proper capitalism in it now. (The House of Fraser no longer has the gourmet food and fine wine section, though, which is sad).

    Posted by Michael Jennings on 13 February 2014

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