Hammersmith Bridge to reopen to pedestrians and cyclists

15 July 2021, 18:25 | Updated: 15 July 2021, 19:09

Hammersmith Bridge will reopen to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on Saturday
Hammersmith Bridge will reopen to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on Saturday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Hammersmith Bridge will reopen to pedestrians and cyclists on Saturday, 11 months after its closure in August 2020.

The decision comes after a series of investigations into the bridge’s safety and the installation of sensors to allow for constant monitoring of the 134-year-old structure.

“I am really pleased to be able to announce that Hammersmith Bridge is reopening to cyclists and pedestrians,” said Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and City Council, in a video posted to Twitter.

“We’ve done this because we’ve spent £8.2 million on a variety of surveys and new equipment, including heat equipment, that controls the temperature particularly of the pedestals.

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“And additional to that we’ve got a whole bunch of sensor equipment which we’ve flown in from the United States, which is positioned all over the bridge.”

He said the sensor equipment would allow for “continuous” monitoring, and added: “It’s been terrible for people, particularly those south of the river, who have been trapped and unable to get to Hammersmith and use our amazing facilities, or indeed, for people to travel into Barnes, as they need to do.”

Saturday’s reopening will also see river traffic being able to pass under it again.

The reopening has been welcomed by many.

Labour MP for Putney Fleur Anderson tweeted “Good news! It is great to see that Hammersmith Bridge is reopening to pedestrians and cyclists from this weekend.”

She then added that the Government should “fund the full restoration of the bridge”, citing traffic problems in Putney.

Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney also welcomed the news.

“The Bridge’s closure has had appalling consequences for my constituents, particularly school children who’ve been forced to take longer, more dangerous routes to school, and businesses who’ve seen their revenues shrink in the absence of vital footfall,” she said in a statement on Twitter.

However she also said there was “still work to be done”, saying the bridge must be opened for vehicles and a ferry service should be set up in the meantime.

The measures implemented to allow the bridge to partially reopen are not a permanent fix.

The statement from the Case for the Continued Safe Operation of Hammersmith Bridge, the body which advises the council on the safety of the bridge, said: “These arrangements are temporary measures and not a substitute for permanent repair.

“The application of a permanent solution remains a priority.

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“Without a funded plan for repair the limited current use must cease eventually.

“It is not acceptable in managing safety risk to rely upon interim measures indefinitely.

Cllr Cowan said: “H&F [Hammersmith and Fulham] is moving at full speed to draw up a timetable for the full repair and restoration of the Grade II* listed bridge which will eventually see cars and buses allowed across the river.”

Hammersmith Bridge has not been fully open since 2019
Hammersmith Bridge has not been fully open since 2019. Picture: Alamy

Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to traffic since April 2019 after micro-fractures were found in the bridge’s pedestals.

In August 2020 the closure was extended to pedestrians and cyclists after the fractures rapidly increased in size.

River traffic was also not allowed to pass under it, with the Hammersmith and Fulham Council website saying the fractures “posed a serious risk that the bridge could suddenly and with little warning collapse”.

The closure of the bridge caused a variety of problems – it was used by thousands of people every day, including over 1,000 children who used it to get to school.

But it is a Grade II Listed heritage asset and fully repairing it will cost millions of pounds.