“Despite recent emergency closures, the bridge is due to be completely closed next year for a more radical overhaul and strengthening to allow double decker buses to use it again. (They were banned when there were previous structural problems). Our understanding is that this work is likely to take six months from next summer. The works will also involve repainting (and relighting). When it was last repainted, many lamented the loss of the more decorative treatment in pastel colours by the London County Council. The replacement in what many people refer to as Harrods green came about after studies of the original paint scheme by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1887 and was strongly advised by English Heritage. A new lighting scheme was also installed by the Council and which won a Hammersmith Society Environment Award in 2001, but the deck lighting has proved unreliable and difficult to maintain. The Hammersmith Society Committee feel that there is an opportunity to revisit both the colour and the lighting and that an exciting way to explore possibilities would be for an open competition : We would be happy to organise this but obviously there would need to be agreement with both the Council and TfL who are funding the main project.
Do let us know what you think!”
Richard Owen responds:
“On the subject of Hammersmith Bridge I welcome plans for an overhaul of arguably London’s most beautiful river crossing.
Personally I would not open up the question of colour scheme. The existing green and gold scheme is both historically accurate and beautiful. I understand the bridge spent the first year of its life in 1887 in a pale pink undercoat before being painted green in 1888, which may have implanted a folk memory that this was its ‘correct’ colour.
There are still important questions though:
1) Will the overhaul include a full strip/gritblast of very many existing paint layers as in the case of the restoration of Tower Bridge completed 2011?
2) There are actually two distinct shades of green in the scheme – a bright acidic green at lower levels and a dustier bronze green elsewhere. Is this intentional/correct or just the result of a partial and poorly matched repaint? Which one is Bazalgette’s colour?
3) There are large heraldic decorations at each end of the bridge (including the coat of arms of United Kingdom!) which were originally visible in their correct colours but have since been painted out. These could, indeed I think should, be reinstated.”