Not far from Beckton DLR depot is an odd road that seems somewhat oversized and impressive for the minimal amount of traffic that uses it. It should however be very busy, as it should connect with a bridge across the Thames to the south side and the Thamesmead estate.
What was initially called the East London River Crossing was proposed back in the 1970s, and as part of the docklands redevelopment, the LDDC pushed for the bridge to be built – as part of a much larger road scheme which would have seen effectively a motorway built through South East London.
It went through a public consultation and was approved in 1985, but the arrival of London City Airport meant that the bridge needed to be redesigned to be both high enough to let boats pass, but now low enough to comply with air traffic requirements.
A new consultation had to be commissioned, and that took place in 1991, even as environmental pressure grew to cancel it due to the approach road passing through the ancient Oxleas wood on the south side.
In July 1993 that the government dropped the planned bridge as no longer meeting modern expectations, and plans for a smaller more local bridge were pushed forward – this became the Thames Gateway Bridge.
This would be a more modest road bridge, but also included provision for the DLR to extend into Thamesmead, and a pedestrian link. This was pushed forward in 2004, and but despite political support was regularly kicked down the road by protests and inquiries rejecting the plans.
Finally in 2008, Boris Johnson formally cancelled the £500 million bridge, and what’s left is the spur road, officially the Eastern Gateway Grade Separation Bridge that runs up to a junction that faces a fenced off dead end of a bridge.
It runs just a few metres, pointing towards Thamesmead but will never reach it — and unless the overpass is demolished, will probably be an unused stump of a road for decades to come.
It did almost have a use though.
If you look at satellite photos, you’ll see a painted H on the road. It’s faded quite badly now and is barely visible, but the site was for a short while proposed for a helicopter landing site.
Today it’s an abandoned relic of a time when massive road building projects was seen as the future, although there is a proposal for a new river crossing nearby at Gallions Read.
Meanwhile, Thamesmead is still waiting for its DLR connection.
Location map and local interesting places
- 18] Barbers Alley
- 20] Lesnes Abbey