About Westminster Bridge
In the heart of the bustling city of London, overlooking the tranquil waters of River Thames lies the oldest structure of London, Westminster Bridge. Acclaimed for its elegant Gothic architecture, the bridge is now an eminent landmark that is visited by every tourist exploring the marvels of the city.
With the County Hall on one side and the London Eye on the other, the strategic location makes it accessible to the city's most magnificent monuments and happening places. While the daily traffic commutes on its smooth roads, the wide pavements have pedestrians strolling on the bridge and capturing the picturesque vistas atop it.
In fact, with lavish cruises traversing calmly in crystal waters of the River Thames, and modern buildings outlining both sides, the city's panorama from the bridge are so postcard worthy they became the inspiration behind William Wordsworth's sonnet.
This 250 m long bridge is painted green to match the leather seats in the House of Commons. Seven graceful arches form the highlight of its beauty. Connecting Westminster and Lambeth boroughs, the bridge is just 0.7 miles away from London city center.
Interesting fact, the bridge that you see today is the second attempt at its construction. Yes, the bridge has been built more than once! The original design of 1750 was given by a Swiss engineer named Charles Labelye. However, it was revamped by Thomas Page to hold the modern traffic and inaugurated again on 24 May 1862.
So get ready to get some Instagram perfect snaps while marvelling the brilliance of craftsmanship of Westminster Bridge. Take a lovely stroll in the morning, when the city is quiet, and the view is unhindered. But stick around till noon to witness the architectural joke played by the sun and laugh your heart out.
How to Reach Westminster Bridge
You always have the Driving route to Westminster Bridge from London City Center, which is approximately 5.5 miles. It is the fastest way to reach the bridge (in about 20 minutes). Let’s have a look at ways to reach the bridge using public transports.
1. You need to walk a little from London City Center to Pritchards Road Bethnal Green from where you take a bus ride to St Paul’s Churchyard. You walk a bit to reach the Mansion House Station from where you board the district line of the underground tube and reach the Westminster station. After another walk from the station, you’ll reach the bridge in approximately 33 minutes.
2. A walk from London City Center would get you to the Old Ford Road where you can board the bus to Mile End. The stand is right beside the Mile End Station, which is a ride away from the Westminster Bridge. Another walk would get you to your destination. The time taken would be around 38 minutes.
3. Following the same route till the Old Ford Road, you take a bus ride to the London Bridge Bus Station which stands right next to the London Bridge station. Taking a short ride to the Westminster Station would leave you with a short walk to reach the bridge in about 35 minutes following this route.
If bus rides aren’t to your liking you can walk directly to Bethnal Green station from London City Center. You can catch the central line to Bond Street station. After a minute walk, you can catch the Bond Street Jubilee line to Westminster station in around 32-33 minutes.
What Not to Miss at Westminster Bridge
You'll be surprised at the countless ways in which you can discover the marvels hidden in Westminster. Listed below are some of the best things to see and do around Westminster Bridge.
1. Cruise in River Thames -
Sip champagne and view the postcard views of London on the deck of cruises sailing on River Thames.
2. Witness Changing of the Guard Ceremony -
Just outside the gorgeous Buckingham Palace takes place the synchronized ceremony of Changing of the Guards. Starting at 11 am, this procession lasts for about 45 minutes. This official exchange or handover of duties takes places with the majestic Buckingham Palace in the backdrop.
3. Tour Westminster Abbey -
Explore the rich history and intricate artefacts displayed at Westminster Abbey on a guided tour. This landmark has an important place in British history and was also the venue of Prince William’s wedding. However, please make a note that you can only admire these frescos and not take a picture of them.
Places to visit near Westminster Bridge
Located a few minutes walking distance from Westminster Bridge, there are a lot of marvels for sightseeing in the vicinity of the bridge.
1. London Eye and Big Ben -
Situated along the banks of the River Thames, these landmarks are just a 5-minute walk away from the bridge. Atop the Big Ben, you can catch the bird-eyes view of the breathtaking panorama of London city. The ride on the London Eye lasts for 30 minutes and offers a peaceful escape up in the sky from where you can view the entire city at a glance.
2. Sea Life London Aquarium -
Explore the multicoloured sea life while walking through glass tunnels of this underwater aquarium. Located at the heart of London, Sea Life Aquarium hosts more than 350 species from different biospheres whom you can not just look at but also feed.
3. Houses of Parliament -
London's House of Parliament gives a wonderful opportunity to the commoners for getting acquainted with administrative proceedings. Sitting in the corridors, you can get a close-up of how the meetings are presided over in the House of Lords and House of Commons. You also get to witness how political issues are resolved after intellectual debates and discussions.
Other Essential Information About Westminster Bridge
History of Westminster Bridge
The Westminster Bridge was completed in 1750. It took 12 years to finish due to its impressive workmanship and detailed foundation. The construction of this bridge was constantly being opposed by the City of London Corporation and the company of watermen.
The London Bridge was the sole way to cross over the River Thames and people were charged to cross it if they wanted to get across on foot. Another way was to take a ferry which was pretty expensive in the first place. Therefore when in 1664, construction of a bridge was proposed between Westminster and Lambeth to replace the horse-ferry connecting them. A few notable individuals and corporations heavily opposed the proposition.
After the City of London Corporation loaned £100,000 to Charles II, the idea was dismissed for a long time. A 1721 proposition faced the same fate; however, finally, in 1726 an act was passed to build the Putney Bridge between Putney and Fulham.
It came as a huge relief to travelers but as the suburbs to the west of London continually expanded even more people faced inconvenience in crossing the river. This matter was therefore put in front of the parliament and in 1736 an act passed for the construction of a new bridge.
This act was proposed to connect the western side of the bridge to the east. The ferryman and the archbishop were promised compensation of £25,000 and £21,000 respectively. The bridge was financed by 5 state lotteries but when the lotteries weren’t enough, the private capital was approached.
The capital was looking for an experienced yet classy engineer as such a major project hadn’t been done before. A Swiss-born engineer, Charles Labelye was brought on board to supervise the construction. The final design turned out to be an exquisite piece of architecture. This bridge was reconstructed in 1850s and is currently known as Westminster Bridge.
Places to Eat near Westminster Bridge
Serving the finest tastes from exquisite gourmet are the following restaurants near Westminster Bridge.
1. Gillray's Steakhouse and Bar -
The chefs at this restaurant claim to serve the best steak and roasted beef along with a range of cocktails and drinks.
Location: County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth
Timings: 6:30 am - 10:30 pm
2. Locale Southbank -
The specially prepared eclectic menu of this restaurant is a blend of Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.
Location: County Hall, 3B Belvedere Road, Lambeth
Timings: Noon - 10:30 pm
3. Bao Fa Garden Restaurant and Bar -
Savoury delicacies from Chinese gourmet are prepared with love and served stylishly. This restaurant is known for its stylish décor and great taste.
Location: County Hall, The Queen's Walk, Lambeth
Timings: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Places to Stay near Westminster Bridge
Numerous star rated as well as affordable luxurious accommodations are easily available just at a stone's throw from Westminster Bridge. Here are some of the best picks in stays near the Bridge:
1. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London -
From studio rooms and suites to regal Penthouses, you have a lot of options in stays offered at this hotel. It also has the advantage of being at a walking distance from major attractions like the London Eye, Big Ben and the London Aquarium.
2. London Marriott Hotel County Hall -
This signature hotel is present along the banks of the River Thames and has classy rooms along with a heated pool and fitness center in the hotel complex.
3. The Royal Horseguards -
The pearly white facade of this Victorian-style hotel standing near the edge of the River Thames is what makes it a unique stay.
Travellers’ Tip before Visiting Westminster Bridge
When visiting London or Westminster for the first time, here are a few tips that can come handy.
- To reach the bridge while avoiding the traffic, the best time saving and convenient option will be taking the tube. The closest station is Westminster. After that, it’s just walking distance to the bridge.
- Take good care of your belongings as there may be pickpockets lurking around.
- Be sure who you handover your camera to before asking any random stranger to take a picture.
- Keep a tap on the forecast and dress according to the weather.
- Try studying the history behind any place before visiting that landmark to get fascinated by the marvel.