Victoria Embankment

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The Westminster end of Victoria Embankment, 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.

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.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

Victoria Embankment under construction in 1865.
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 a project of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The contractor for the work was Thomas Brassey.[1] 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.

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. 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 Duke of Buckingham.

Electrification[edit]

In December 1878 Victoria Embankment became the first street in Britain to be permanently lit by electricity.[2] The light was provided by 20 Yablochkov candles powered by a Gramme AC generator. 16 March 1879 the system was extended to 40 lamps and 10 October to 55 lamps.[3] Previously the street had been lit by gas, and in June 1884, gas lighting was re-established as electricity was not competitive.[3]

Route[edit]

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[edit]

Illustrated section showing below ground structures of a riverside embankment including a covered railway line with steam train, riverside wall with sewer and pipes running behind. A large, glass roofed railway station sits in the left middle distance adjoining a railway bridge that crosses the river. Boats ply the water and tiny figures are engaged in construction work with a raised scaffold in the centre.
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.[4]

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.

Notable sites[edit]

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[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walker, Charles (1969). Thomas Brassey, Railway Builder. London: Frederick Muller. p. 151. ISBN 0-584-10305-0. 
  2. ^ History of Electricity
  3. ^ a b Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology. Electricity Council. 1987. pp. 11–12. 
  4. ^ 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″N 0°07′18″W / 51.50722°N 0.12167°W / 51.50722; -0.12167

External links[edit]

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