Explore Westminster Bridge

Honouring the Houses of Parliament

Westminster Bridge - Illuminated River by Paul CrawleyIlluminated River

Westminster Bridge - Illuminated River (2021-03-30/2021-03-30) by James NewtonIlluminated River

The history of Westminster Bridge

The Old Westminster Bridge, built in 1750, was the first stone bridge to cross the Thames in 500 years. Many artists were inspired to paint it, among them Samuel Scott, Canaletto and Claude Monet. In 1831 the demolition of London Bridge increased the flow of water that undermined Westminster bridge’s foundations. A new bridge was designed by engineer Thomas Page. Sir Charles Barry, the architect responsible for re-building the Palace of Westminster after a fire in 1834, was taken on as consultant so that the bridge would complement his new Houses of Parliament.  The new bridge opened on Queen Victoria’s 43rd birthday – 24 May 1862 – with a 25-gun salute to honour her 25 years on the throne. With its seven iron-ribbed elliptical spans and pillars of grey granite, Westminster Bridge has the most arches of all the Thames bridges. The balustrade is pierced with a row of trefoils, a graphic form composed of three overlapping circles. A portcullis, the cross of St George, a thistle, a shield and a rose – symbols of parliament and the United Kingdom – appear in the decorative ironwork.

Westminster Bridge - Illuminated River (2021-03-30/2021-03-30) by James NewtonIlluminated River

Artist's Vision

Westminster Bridge is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Palace of Westminster and is a Grade II listed structure. Leo Villareal’s artwork for Westminster Bridge is a subtle addition, honouring the bridge’s historically significant design. The artwork illuminates the latticework undercrofts in soft green tones, referencing the colour of the benches in the House of Commons.  

Westminster Bridge - Illuminated River (2021-03-30/2021-03-30) by James NewtonIlluminated River

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Credits: Story

Videography by Paul Crawley ©

Music by Guildhall School composer Jasmine Meaden

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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