This grand colonnade might be the sort of thing you could expect adjoining an equally grand set of buildings, but is in fact a railway bridge in South London.

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A Grade 2 listed railway bridge on the line from London Bridge, it was recently refurbished in a manner that matches its twin further along the line at Bermondsey Spa.

Completed in 1836, the railway line ran from Deptford to London Bridge, and the roadway was lined with these 12 cast-iron Doric columns which separate the roadway from narrower arched footways on either side.

The method was not just decorative, as it ensured that the pedestrian route wouldn’t be confined within a noisome narrow tunnel.

The tunnel has been widened significantly since it was first built, with two wide modern metal spans now engulfing the original.

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The dirty old white columns have been given a new lick of blue, and the two modern railway bridges on either side have also been given a clean, a matching blue paint job, and anti-pigeon netting applied.

To mark the completion of the works, a plaque was unveiled on one side of the road, and a drawing of the bridge as it was when it first opened.

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Eagle eyes may notice that the drawing does not accurately reflect the design of the railway bridge — which is not unusual for Victorian artists. They tended to exaggerate the size of engineering works, which often leads to disappointment when I see a drawing of something grand, then turn up to see a significantly smaller edifice having been constructed.

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As I stood there, many people passed through, barely noticing the decorative columns that separated them from the motorcars and vans.

£375,000 had been invested into this refurbishment; £225,000 came from funding for development in the area, as well as a £150,000 grant that Southwark Council successfully applied for from Railway Heritage Trust.

The pedestrian section of the bridge is still subject to torrents of water from above though.

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6 comments
  1. Neil says:

    Noisome – what a brilliant word.

  2. Stephen Barker says:

    The columns look splendid in their new coat of paint.

  3. DaveCardboard says:

    When I saw the first picture, I thought you’d Photoshopped them..!

  4. h says:

    £375k sounds like a lot for a bit of blue paint and a plaque

  5. Den says:

    I’ve been through the bridge loads of times in the past, but never noticed the columns. Hard to miss now, though.

    And yes, noisome is a useful word for this kind of semi-tunnel – but it means smelly rather than noisy, of course.

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