Walking into night…

…from sunset at Blackfriars Bridge to night-time at Lambeth Bridge, past Illuminated River’s latest light installations.

Spring 2021 saw the second stage of Illuminated River’s marvellous public art installation: the lighting of Blackfriars, Waterloo, the Golden Jubilee footbridges, Westminster and Lambeth Bridges designed by Leo Villareal. They join London, Canon Street Railway, Southwark and Millennium Bridges, illuminated in the summer of 2019. A walk along the river Thames at nightfall is a magical experience as riverside buildings begin to light up, sprinkling glitter, shimmering on the surface of the water. Here I follow a small section of the Thames Path from Blackfriars Bridge upstream to Lambeth Bridge, looking at the newest installations, where the experience of oncoming darkness is further heightened by the gradual illumination and subtle evolution of the lighting on the bridges along the way.

The sun sets, and right on cue the illumination beneath Blackfriars Bridge stirs into life
Afterglow catching the upstream side of Blackfriars Bridge as different colours of the illumination grow stronger
Waterloo Bridge with its band of light and changing colours beneath its arches
Illuminated arch of Waterloo Bridge and M.V. THOMAS DOGGETT at her mooring
The Jubilee footbridges either side of the Hungerford Railway Bridge
Two of Westminster Bridges arches in their classic shade of green
A subtle change in the lighting of Westminster Bridge as its colour evolves to another shade of green
Partial unveiling of the Elizabeth Tower and one of its clock faces
Luxury yacht BOURNE heading towards Westminster Bridge
M.V. MERCIA heading towards Lambeth Bridge seen from Westminster Bridge
The seven illuminated arches of Westminster Bridge
Lambeth Bridge seen from Victoria Tower Gardens
Lambeth Bridge seen from the Albert Embankment
The London Eye seen from Westminster Bridge
The London Eye and Westminster Bridge seen from Lambeth Bridge

From nightfall you can see the Thames as a kaleidoscope of liquid colour, with infinite, ever-changing reflections shifted by the constant movement of ebbing and flowing tides, wash waves from passing boats, and gusts of wind. But at 2.00 am, the lights fade, the bridges darken and the river returns to its more restful natural state…

Further Information
Article in the Financial Times by Edwin Heathcote, February 10, 2021
Article in the Guardian by Rowan Moore, April 11, 2021
The Illuminated River Project
The Illuminated River Art Trail

Views from a bridge

Looking north, Lambeth Bridge…

… in central London, has one of finest views in the city, taking in the Palace of Westminster, Lambeth Palace, St. Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge, and the London Eye but it’s also a perfect vantage point for watching all kinds of boats that operate along this stretch of the Thames.
Though, despite a couple of ugly buildings, the north is more in line with Wordsworth’s immortal words composed on Westminster Bridge, “Earth has not any thing to show more fair”, look to the south and you’ll see an architectural mess with little redeeming features. Most of the pictures that follow were taken from the north facing side of the bridge, just a few from the south, not only because the view is basically unattractive but also because sunlight often made things more difficult.

Westminster Bridge seen from Lambeth Bridge
The Palace of Westminster sheltered to the south by mature plane trees in Victoria Tower Gardens

Despite commercial trade being far from what it used to be in the 1960s and before, there are still a number of working boats regularly passing under Lambeth Bridge. A familiar daily sight are the Cory tugs towing empty yellow containers upstream to collect waste from their Wandsworth and Battersea depots, returning downstream, with filled containers to their plant at Belvedere.

Cory tug RECOVERY towing empty waste containers upstream

GPS Marine Contractors are major players in civil engineering and construction along the Thames and the Medway but their business also extends throughout Europe. Their bright tugs and barges are a familiar sight along this stretch of the river too.

GPS Marine tug ARCADIA towing a barge of building materials upstream. She has now been sold, renamed and is bound for Africa
GPS Marine tug ARCADIA returning downstream having made a delivery

Walking beside the Thames you will probably have seen the smart blue refuelling tankers HEIKO, ARMADOR II, GOSSO and CONQUESTOR of Thames Marine Services, making their way along the river, or passed by their static barges at Wapping and Westminster.

Thames Marine Services’ motorised fuel tanker CONQUESTOR approaching their Westminster fixed refuelling barge
Bunker barge ALMERE 4 heading upstream
Livett’s workboat ALFIE heading downstream, approaching Lambeth Bridge

Livett’s Group have been one of the leading companies working along the Thames, the Medway and others, for over three hundred years. With their varied fleet they can take on all kinds of projects including: filming along the Thames by river or drone; luxury river cruises, publicity events and product launches; marine civil engineering, logistics and towage; diving services; the hiring of barges, piers, moorings and pontoons; safety boats and workboats along the Thames.

Port of London Authority’s DRIFTWOOD III heading downstream towards Lambeth Bridge
Workboat REBEL
STORM Clipper part of the Thames Clipper fleet since 1999
GOLDEN SUNRISE one of CPBS’s party and sightseeing boats
Bateaux London‘s M.V. SYMPHONY with her Glass Room restaurant.
James Berry, winner of the DOGGETT’S Coat and Badge Wager 2020, raced on June 25, 2021, a year later due to Covid. The 2021 race took place on September 8, 2021, so continuing the unbroken tradition of the annual race since 1715, and was won by Max Carter-Miller
London Port Health Authority vessel LONDINIUM III
Thames River Police launch GABRIEL FRANKS II
Tower Lifeboat crew attending to a casualty on Lifeboat HURLEY BURLY
Port of London Authority vessel BARNES
London Fire Rescue vessel FIRE FLASH

Looking at the cityscape to the south, the only easily recognisable building is the *sore thumb* Millbank Tower on the right. Ahead, and to the left, is a mediocre architectural mishmash, its only redeeming feature being Vauxhall Bridge, just discernible in this image but better illustrated in the image below this.

Looking across the roadway at the architectural jumble to the south
Vauxhall Bridge seen from the south facing side of Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Fire Rescue Station with fire rescue vessels FIRE DART and FIRE FLASH on permanent standby
The floating Tamesis Dock Pub

Lambeth Bridge was one of the earliest articles in this series and not many days have passed during lockdown and beyond without my seeing it from Victoria Tower Gardens or walking across to the other side. For many, including me, bridges are a symbol of connection, of bringing together, summed up so well by Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Trouble Water“…

Further information
I have given some information in the text where possible about most of the companies that I’ve seen working on the stretch of the Thames observed from Lambeth Bridge. If you would like to discover more, click on the links in the photo captions.