The Rolling Bridge

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The Rolling Bridge
The Rolling Bridge by Thomas Heatherwick, Paddington Basin2.jpg
Half curled
Coordinates51°31′06″N 0°10′29″W / 51.518390°N 0.174735°W / 51.518390; -0.174735Coordinates: 51°31′06″N 0°10′29″W / 51.518390°N 0.174735°W / 51.518390; -0.174735
DesignTruss bridge
MaterialTriangular steel segments, hydraulic actuators, lightweight deck
Total length12 metres (39 ft)
DesignerThomas Heatherwick Studio
Engineering design bySKM Anthony Hunts and Packman Lucas
Constructed byLittlehampton Welding Ltd
Construction end2005
Construction cost£500,000

The Rolling Bridge is a type of curling moveable bridge completed in 2004 as part of the Grand Union Canal office and retail development project at Paddington Basin, London. Despite the connotation of its name, it is more accurately described as "curling".


Video clip of opening and closing of the Rolling Bridge, at Paddington Basin, London. The clip is shown in 5 times the original speed.

The Rolling Bridge was conceived by Thomas Heatherwick.

The bridge consists of eight triangular sections hinged at the walkway level and connected above by two-part links that can be collapsed towards the deck by hydraulic cylinders mounted vertically between the sections. When extended, it resembles a conventional steel and timber footbridge, and is 12 metres long. To allow the passage of boats, the hydraulic pistons are activated and the bridge curls up until its two ends join, to form an octagonal shape measuring one half of the waterway's width at that point.

The bridge won the British Structural Steel Design Award.[1]

"Rolling" as a name and as a type[edit]

MovableBridge curl.gif

While its designer refers to this particular structure as "The Rolling Bridge" on his website, this should probably be regarded as the name for this particular bridge rather than a term to refer to its type, which could be more accurately described as a "curling bridge". This name is used by some to refer to this bridge.[2][3] At present, this curling bridge is the only one of its type known to be in existence.

Traditional use of the term "rolling bridge" dates from at least the Victorian era, and is used to describe a type of retractable drawbridge used to span a ditch or moat surrounding a fortification. That type of bridge is not hinged, and remains horizontal when it is rolled inside the gates of a fort. Modern versions are called retractable bridges or thrust bridges. One particular version of the rolling bridge type was known as the Guthrie rolling bridge, examples of which may still be seen at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth. Certain types of bascule bridges roll on an arc; an example is the Pegasus Bridge.


The bridge is scheduled to unfold across the canal every Wednesday and Friday at noon and every Saturday at 2pm,[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "37th Structural Steel Design Award Winners". Corus. 23 June 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  2. ^ Heatherwick studio - Rolling Bridge
  3. ^ "46: Thomas Heatherwick, 35". The Times. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Paddington Basin's Bridges in action". Paddington. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2018.

External links[edit]