The history of Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge was opened in 1921, replacing the earlier Queen Street Bridge that stood on the same site. Designed by architect Sir Ernest George and engineer Basil Mott, it consists of cast iron arches with abutments and balustrade of grey granite. Below the bridge on the south landing you can still see some old steps that were once used by the Thames Waterman as a landing dock to moor their boats and wait for customers. Before there were many bridges to cross the Thames, these Waterman provided the main form of transport across the river. On the north bank by Southwark Bridge is a pedestrian tunnel with a wall mural illustrating a scene of the Thames frost fairs. In several winters between the 17th and early 19th centuries (known as 'the Little Ice Age'), the Thames froze over giving Londoners the opportunity to set up festivals with food stalls, shops, sporting events and even temporary pubs on ice.
Southwark Bridge - Illuminated River (2019-07-23) by Neil HawkinsIlluminated River
Illuminated River (2019-07-17) by Neil HawkinsIlluminated River
The artistic vision
Drawing inspiration from the colour palettes of the Impressionist masters, the lighting design accentuates the architectural and aesthetic features of Southwark Bridge, such as the series of strong steel arches and their bands of painted teal with golden yellow detailing. Villareal has chosen to activate the underside of the structure with fields of light in subtly shifting hues in order to emphasise the elaborate latticework. Deliberately limiting the illumination to the undersides of the bridge results in dramatic areas of darkness on the arches, contrasting the teal iron bands with the stone architecture above.
Southwark Bridge - Illuminated River (2019-07-16/2019-07-16) by James NewtonIlluminated River
Did you know that 1.4 million people cycle over Southwark Bridge every year?
Scroll to explore Southwark Bridge in 360
Southwark Bridge Moving Detail - Illuminated River (2019-07-14) by James NewtonIlluminated River
Leo Villareal and Southwark Bridge, 2019 (2019-07-16/2019-07-16)Illuminated River
Leo Villareal discusses the architecture of Southwark Bridge, the inspiration behind his artwork and its visual impact.
Videography by Paul Crawley ©
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