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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
London Bridge Alcoves
These 2 alcoves are from the London Bridge demolished in 1831
Location: Approach Road, Victoria Park, Hackney Wick
Description: These two stone pedestrian alcoves, are surviving fragments of the old London Bridge, demolished in 1831. They arrived here in 1860. This incarnation of the famous bridge (there have been two others since), stood for over 600 years and was lined with shops and houses.
With regard to these turrets, Labelye, the architect, says they were not only built for their evident accommodation of passengers, desiring or obliged to stop without interfering with the roadway, or for the relief they afforded to the eye in breaking so long a line, but for the additional security they gave to the bridge, by strengthening the parts between the arches, and thereby affording so much more weight to repel the lateral pressure.
Maitland, however, mentions a more serious purpose to which these recesses might have been put; he says they might have served for places of ambush for robbers and cut-throats, but for the establishment of a guard of twelve watchmen specially appointed for the security of the passage during the night. The writer of the account of Westminster, in the Beauties of England and Wales, mentions a peculiarity which these recesses possessed, somewhat analogous to the whispering gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral. He says, So just are their proportions, and so complete and uniform their symmetry, that, if a person whispers against the wall on the one side of the way, he may be plainly heard on the opposite side; and parties may converse without being prevented by the interruption of the street or the noise of carriages.
Tagged in this Tour: The Bridges That Made London