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Festival of Britain | by Leonard Bentley
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Festival of Britain

This is a photograph of an artist's impression of the Festival of Britain site on the south bank. Due to the expected number of visitors arriving by train at Charing Cross it was decided to build an additional footbridge on the upstream side of Charing Cross railway bridge. The work was undertaken by the 36th Army Engineer Regiment who were based in Maidstone. Six timber piers were built by civilian contractors so that a Bailey bridge could be 'pushed' across the Thames from the south bank. On Monday 19th June 1950 the first 80ft span was pushed out to the first pier but work was curtailed after problems with the steam crane until spares could be obtained.

The next day was also marred by a further delay when the leading span slipped off one of the piers and fell into the Thames, apparently it was a balance misjudgement. The span was quickly retrieved from the Thames and the work continued uneventfully until the north bank was reached. In mid July the final span was thrown over Victoria Embankment and canted at fifty degrees towards Charing Cross Railway Station so that it could be connected to a platform being built for the purpose.

During its more than two years of use the bridge experienced one more mishap when the cladding surrounding one of the piers was set on fire by a casually discarded cigarette thrown from a passing train.

The bridge was dismantled in early October 1952.

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Taken circa 1951