Victoria Embankment

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The Westminster end of Victoria Embankment and PS Tattershall Castle , pictured in 2009. Victoria Embankment, London - geograph.org.uk - 1598692.jpg
The Westminster end of Victoria Embankment and PS Tattershall Castle , pictured in 2009.

Victoria Embankment is part of the Thames Embankment, a road and river-walk along the north bank of the River Thames in London. It runs from the Palace of Westminster to Blackfriars Bridge in the City of London.

Thames Embankment reclaimed area next to the River Thames in central London

The Thames Embankment is a work of 19th-century civil engineering that reclaimed marshy land next to the River Thames in central London. It consists of the Victoria Embankment and Chelsea Embankment.

River Thames river in southern England

The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.

Palace of Westminster Meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Contents

As well as being a major thoroughfare for road traffic between the City of Westminster and the City of London, it is noted for several memorials, such as the Battle of Britain Monument, permanently berthed retired vessels, such as HMS President, and public gardens, including Victoria Embankment Gardens.

City of Westminster City and borough in London

The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.

HMS <i>President</i> (1918)

HMS Saxifrage was launched in 1918 as a Flower-class anti-submarine Q-ship. She was renamed HMS President in 1922 and moored permanently on the Thames as a Royal Navy Reserve drill ship. In 1982 she was sold to private owners, and having changed hands twice, now serves as a venue for conferences and functions, and serves as the offices for a number of media companies. She is now called HQMS President (1918) to distinguish her from HMS President, the Royal Naval Reserve base in St Katharine Docks. She is one of the last three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War. She is also the sole representative of the first type of purpose built anti-submarine vessels, and is the ancestor of World War II convoy escort sloops, which evolved into modern anti-submarine frigates.

Victoria Embankment Gardens park in London, England

The Victoria Embankment Gardens are a series of gardens on the north side of the River Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge in London.

History

Construction

Victoria Embankment under construction in 1865. Embankment Construction of the Thames Embankment ILN 1865.jpg
Victoria Embankment under construction in 1865.
Electric light provided by Yablochkov candles in December 1878. Jablochkoff Candles on the Victoria Embankment, December 1878.jpg
Electric light provided by Yablochkov candles in December 1878.

The Victoria Embankment's construction started in 1865 and was completed in 1870 under the direction of Joseph Bazalgette. It was part of a three-part work, the other two parts being the Albert Embankment, from the Lambeth end of Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall; and the Chelsea Embankment, extending from Millbank to the Cadogan Pier at Chelsea, close by Battersea Bridge. [1] It was a project of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The contractor for the work was Thomas Brassey. [2] The original impetus was the need to provide London with a modern sewerage system. Another major consideration was the relief of congestion on the Strand and Fleet Street.

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, CB was a 19th-century English civil engineer. As chief engineer of London's Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation of a sewer network for central London which was instrumental in relieving the city from cholera epidemics, while beginning the cleansing of the River Thames.

Albert Embankment road and footpath in Lambeth, London

Albert Embankment is part of the river bank on the south side of the River Thames in Central London. It stretches approximately one mile (1.6 km) northward from Vauxhall Bridge to Westminster Bridge, and is located in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Chelsea Embankment

Chelsea Embankment is part of the Thames Embankment, a road and walkway along the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England.

The project involved building out on to the foreshore of the River Thames, narrowing the river. The construction work required the purchase and demolition of much expensive riverside property. The cut-and-cover tunnel for the District Railway was built within the Embankment and roofed over to take the roadway. The embankment was faced with granite, and penstocks, designed to open at ebb tide to release diluted sewage when rainstorms flooded the system, were built into it as a means of preventing backups in the drainage system and of periodically flushing the mud banks. [3]

District Railway underground railway in London

The Metropolitan District Railway was a passenger railway that served London from 1868 to 1933. Established in 1864 to complete the inner circle, an underground railway in London, the first part of the line opened using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. The Metropolitan Railway operated all services until the District introduced its own trains in 1871. The railway was soon extended westwards through Earl's Court to Fulham, Richmond, Ealing and Hounslow. After completing the inner circle and reaching Whitechapel in 1884, it was extended to Upminster in Essex in 1902.

At ground level, in addition to the new roads, two public gardens were laid out. One of these backs onto the government buildings of Whitehall, and the other stretches from Hungerford Bridge to Waterloo Bridge. The gardens contain many statues, including a monument to Bazalgette. The section of the gardens between Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross station also includes a large bandstand, where musical performances are given, and the 1626 watergate of the former York House built for the first Duke of Buckingham.

Whitehall road in the City of Westminster, in central London

Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which forms the first part of the A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the centre of the Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name 'Whitehall' is used as a metonym for the British civil service and government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.

Waterloo Bridge bridge in London, England

Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. Its name commemorates the victory of the British, Dutch and Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Thanks to its location at a strategic bend in the river, the views from the bridge are widely held to be the finest from any spot in London at ground level.

Charing Cross railway station central London railway terminus

Charing Cross railway station is a central London railway terminus between the Strand and Hungerford Bridge in the City of Westminster. It is the terminus of the South Eastern main line to Dover via Ashford. All trains are operated by Southeastern, which provides the majority of commuter and regional services to south-east London and Kent. It is connected to Charing Cross Underground station and is near to Embankment Underground station and Embankment Pier.

The Victoria section was the most complex of the three sections. It was much larger, more complex and more significant to the metropolis than the other two and officially opened on 13 July 1870 by the Prince of Wales and Princess Louise. [4] When people refer to "the Embankment" they are usually referring to that portion of it. The total cost of the construction of the Victoria Embankment is estimated to be £1,260,000 and the purchase of property at £450,000. The total cost includes the cost of materials used in the construction of the embankment. [3]

Edward VII King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India 1901-1910

Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910.

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll English princess, sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In her public life, she was a strong proponent of the arts and higher education and of the feminist cause. Her early life was spent moving among the various royal residences in the company of her family. When her father, the prince consort, died on 14 December 1861, the court went into a long period of mourning, to which with time Louise became unsympathetic. Louise was an able sculptor and artist, and several of her sculptures remain today. She was also a supporter of the feminist movement, corresponding with Josephine Butler, and visiting Elizabeth Garrett.

Issues in construction

Construction of the Victoria Embankment proved to be difficult because of the grandness of it. Parliament was assured that three years would be ample time to complete the project, which did not hold to be true. They had an inadequate labour force along with issues of the architect and property appraiser securing all the wharves and other property needed for access and storage in a timely manner. There was also difficulty in acquiring contract requirement to maintain access to steamboat landings at Westminster and Hungerford. In addition, time and money was lost in experimenting with a new type of cofferdam, a structure used to keep water out of the construction site, crucial for building along the tidal Thames. [3]

Electrification

In December 1878 Victoria Embankment became the first street in Britain to be permanently lit by electricity. [5] The light was provided by 20 Yablochkov candles powered by a Gramme DC generator. 16 March 1879 the system was extended to 40 lamps and 10 October to 55 lamps. [6] Previously the street had been lit by gas, and in June 1884, gas lighting was re-established as electricity was not competitive. [6]

Route

The Victoria Embankment (part of the A3211 road) starts at Westminster Bridge, just north of the Palace of Westminster, then follows the course of the north bank, past Hungerford Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, before ending at Blackfriars Bridge in the City. Shell Mex House, the Savoy Hotel and Savoy Place are located between the Embankment and the Strand.

Transport

Section through Victoria Embankment at Charing Cross showing sub-surface railway Section through Victoria Embankment.png
Section through Victoria Embankment at Charing Cross showing sub-surface railway

London Underground stations along Victoria Embankment are Westminster, Embankment, Charing Cross, Temple and Blackfriars. The former Aldwych station (closed in 1994) was also located nearby. London Buses route N550 is the only bus route along the Embankment, providing an overnight service when the tube is shut. Victoria Embankment was also the southern end of the Kingsway Tramway Subway. It was also used by trams as a loop right up until the end of the original tramway system in London in 1952. [7]

London River Services boat services operate from Westminster Millennium Pier, Embankment Pier and Blackfriars Millennium Pier at points along Victoria Embankment. Pleasure cruises operate from Savoy Pier.

London's East-West Cycle Superhighway, a kerb-protected cycle track across London, runs along most of the Victoria Embankment: it opened in 2016.

Developing as the imperial city

The embankments were designed as a contribution to "the appropriate, and appropriately civilized, cityscape for a prosperous commercial society." John Thwaites, the chair of the Metropolitan Board of Works, made note that the embankments were an important step in making London recognised as an exemplary imperial city, and that the embankments were the greatest public work to be taken in London. This imperial power was represented in the embankments' grandeur and could be seen in the way they controlled nature, linking the local experience of nature in London to the global rivalries of imperial powers. On the river side, new steamboat piers and landing stairs were designed for river access. Above ground were tree lined roadway and pedestrian walkways, surfaced with York paving stone and decorative gaslight posts for the top of the wall. [3]

Notable sites

Ships permanently moored by Victoria Embankment include HMS President, HMS Wellington, and PS Tattershall Castle.

Other notable attractions include the General Charles Gordon Memorial, Royal Air Force Memorial, National Submarine War Memorial, Battle of Britain Monument, Cleopatra's Needle and the modernistic Cleopatra's Kiosk.

See also

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References

  1. Thornbury, Walter. "The Victoria Embankment". British History Online. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  2. Walker, Charles (1969). Thomas Brassey, Railway Builder. London: Frederick Muller. p. 151. ISBN   0-584-10305-0.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Porter, Dale (1998). The Thames Embankment: Environment, Technology, and Society in Victorian London. Akron, OH: U of Akron. ISBN   1-884836-29-1.
  4. Baker, Margaret (2002). Discovering London Statues and Monuments. Osprey Publishing. p. 125. ISBN   9780747804956.
  5. "History of Electricity". Archived from the original on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  6. 1 2 Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology (PDF). Electricity Council. 1987. pp. 11–12.
  7. Marshall, Prince (1972). Wheels of London. The Sunday Times Magazine. p. 50. ISBN   0-7230-0068-9.Retrieved 15 October 2013.

Coordinates: 51°30′26″N0°07′18″W / 51.50722°N 0.12167°W / 51.50722; -0.12167

Further reading

Winchester, Clarence, ed. (1938). "London's Riverside Highways". Wonders of World Engineering. London: Amalgamated Press. pp. 677–682.  Describes the construction of the Victoria and Albert Embankments

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