Artist’s impression of what the bridge will look like, Moxon Architects Ltd
A new footbridge underneath Barnes Railway Bridge has been given the go ahead by Hounslow Council. Having a pedestrian bridge there will mean that walkers can follow the Thames Path from Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge without having to cut inland away from the river. Hounslow Planning Committee approved the plans for the bridge at the same time as a number of other projects around Dukes Meadows, part of an overall regeneration of the area.
Cllr John Todd, who chairs the Barnes Footpath Project Board, says he’s really pleased and excited to see it built. He told me that since council leader Steve Curran had asked him to chair the project, the plans had come together incredibly quickly, in 18 months, and paid tribute to the technical skills and expertise of both Moxon, the architects and Campbell Reith, the engineers. Moxon he said were ”outstanding” bridge architects.
The lead architect for Moxon, 38 year old Ezra Groskin from Vermont, USA, told me that they’d worked with the engineers from the outset designing the bridge from first principles because the project was complex and challenging and there were many stakeholders involved, including Network Rail and the Port of London Authority as well as the nearest rowing clubs, Thames Tradesmen, Emanuel School BC, Barnes Bridge and Cygnet Rowing clubs.
The main problem was headroom. The Grade II listed Barnes Railway Bridge has three arch spans. The rowing clubs didn’t want the bridge taking their space on the water, so wanted it as tight to the bank as possible, but to be fit for purpose it needed to be as high above the water as possible, to be above the water level at high tide while still giving pedestrians sufficient headroom.
Ezra says “it’s a very challenging, complex site” but he thinks they’ve reached “a nice compromise”. He says it should stay dry except for exceptional 100 year floods and has a deceptive simplicity of appearance, with nice clean lines. The footbridge, which will be made of metal, probably painted steel, will cater to all types of users, allowing access to wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and those with buggies.
A previous attempt a getting a footbridge designed for this space was turned down by the PLA because it didn’t overcome the concerns of people using the river.
Before joining Moxon Ezra worked for a firm of architects which exclusively designs bridges. He’s worked on bridges as far flung as the massive Tappan Zee spanning the Hudson River north of New York City and one in Hamburg, Germany. He too is “very pleased and excited” that the project has received the go ahead.