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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): BC
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1739-1889
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 2.72 linear metres
Name of creator(s): MBW | Metropolitan Board of Works x Metropolitan Board of Works
Corporation of London x City of London
Battersea Bridge Company
Fulham Bridge Company
Staines Bridge Commissioners
Vauxhall Bridge Company
Strand Bridge Company


Administrative/Biographical history:

When the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Bill was before the House of Commons in 1868, it met strong opposition. The suggestion was made that some compensation should be given by setting free the bridges across the Thames and Lea. This suggestion was embodied in the Act of 1868 by which the duties for the year 1888-9 were to be applied in the first instance to freeing from toll the following bridges: Kew, Kingston, Hampton Court, Walton and Staines on the Thames, and then Chingford and Tottenham Mills Bridges (including Hellyer's Ferry Bridge) upon the River Lea. These objects were provided for by the Kew and other Bridges Act of 1869 and an amendment Act of 1874 by which a Joint Committee of the Corporation of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works was appointed. The Coal and Wine Duties of 1888-9 were allocated as security for raising the necessary funds. The total cost of the purchase of the bridges was 155,485.2.0.

Staines Bridge was of Roman origin and was for many centuries the first bridge across the Thames above London. The newest bridge was built in 1828-1834. The title deeds of this bridge include many relating to the approaches of the old bridge, the site of the Bush Inn and Gardens. At the time of the freeing of the bridge, it was owned as a public trust. After negotiation the Solicitor to the Committee obtained agreement among the bondholders to accept a quarter of the capital sum, and a verdict for this amount was given on 2nd August 1870. The bridge was opened free of toll on 25th February 1871.

Battersea Bridge was built in 1771-2. It was constructed from wood to the designs of Henry Holland to replace the ferry between Chelsea and Battersea. The bridge was demolished in 1881 as boats often collided with the piers, but it had already contributed to the growth of Chelsea from a village to a small town. The present bridge with cast iron arches and designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette was erected 1886-90.

Fulham Bridge, now known as Putney Bridge, was a timber bridge built between 1727 and 1729 to a design by Sir Jacob Ackworth. Until 1750 it was the only bridge across the Thames west of London Bridge. The Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the bridge in 1879 and freed it from tolls. It had been damaged by a barge in 1870 and the MBW set about commissioning a new, granite bridge from Sir Joseph Bazalgette, completed in 1886 and still standing.

Waterloo Bridge, designed by Rennie, was built by a private company which obtained an act of Parliament for that purpose in 1809. Work began in 1811 and the original intention was to use the name 'Strand Bridge'. The project was renamed 'Waterloo Bridge' in 1816, a year before it opened in 1817. In 1878 it was acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the existing tolls were abandoned. Structural defects were soon discovered and repaired, but in the 1920's, the bridge was declared unsafe. The London County Council replaced it with a design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott which was erected 1939-1944.

Vauxhall Bridge was begun in 1811 to a design by Rennie, but two years later the Vauxhall Bridge Company decided to adopt James Walker's cast iron design as it was cheaper. The bridge was opened in 1816 and was at first called Regent's Bridge. It was the first iron bridge over the Thames. In 1895 to 1906 a new bridge was constructed designed by Sir Alexander Binnie.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Battersea Bridge Company, 1771-1882, including deeds and other legal documents; minutes of meetings; financial accounts and correspondence.

Records of the Fulham Bridge Company, 1739-1770, comprising minutes of meetings.

Records of the Joint Committee of the Corporation of the City of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works for freeing Kew and other bridges from toll, 1864-1889, comprising minutes of meetings and reports.

Records of the Staines Bridge Commissioners, 1828-1870, comprising account of bonds. Records of the Vauxhall Bridge Company, comprising plans and sections of the bridge, its approaches and the riverbed, 1878-1880. Records of the Strand Bridge Company, 1809-1814, comprising share and annuities certificates.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

BC/B: Battersea Bridge Company; BC/F: Fulham Bridge Company; BC/K: Joint Committee; BC/S: Staines Bridge Commissioners; BC/V: Vauxhall Bridge; BC/W: Waterloo (Strand) Bridge.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

These records passed to the Metropolitan Board of Works and its successor the London County Council when the MBW took over responsibility for these bridges.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For Waterloo Bridge see LMA/4037. For the Joint Committee to free bridges from tolls see CLA/018 and COL/CC/JTC. For Battersea Bridge see B/PBB. For Fulham Bridge see MBW-50. For Vauxhall Bridge see Q/STB. For the Metropolitan Board of Works see MBW and for London County Council see LCC.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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