What colour should Hammersmith Bridge be?

Hammersmith BridgeIn his latest bulletin Tom Ryland, the Chairman of the Hammersmith Society, writes:

“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.”

10 thoughts on “What colour should Hammersmith Bridge be?

  1. Just to be different, and agree with the LCC
    I crossed Hammersmith bridge daily as a schoolboy when it was a reasonably tasteful pastel blue and white, see here

    I was convinced a terrible mistake had been made when it appeared that the tide had risen and left its heavy mark of deep green Thames mud on the pillars. Apparently it was intentional!
    Apologises in advance, but IMHO it’s pretty gopping and has been for the last 25+ years. Bazalgette was good at sewers, and should have left colours to others.
    Perhaps we can compromise and have blue, white and gold ?

  2. I always assumed that the green and gold came from the proximity of the nearby Harrods Depository. Let’s leave the pale pastel shades to Albert Bridge. Striking colours for a striking bridge!

  3. In view of the latest shelving of the garden bridge, the monies that have been accrued should be spent on Hammersmith Bridge as soon as possible.

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