I love Hungerford Bridge. I can’t express this enough. Not so much to draw, but to draw from. The old Hungerford Bridge was a nightmare, rattling and rusty, a walkway tacked onto the side of the real bridge itself (a railway bridge, stretching south from Charing Cross station). My memory recalls it as like an urban version of one of those rope bridges from Indiana Jones or something, with the deadly brown Thames rolling beneath the cracks. The most annoying thing was that it was on the wrong side of Hungerford Bridge, for those who want a nice view of Parliament and the City of Westminster. While the railway bridge is still there, a decade ago they finally built two modern and spectacular new pedestrian bridges on either side of it, thereby giving us access to the amazing view above. I am still in awe that this bridge exists (technically it is now a trilogy of bridges, the two pedestrian ones being more properly called the Golden Jubilee Bridges, nice shiny name but a bit of a mouthful). One day I may draw it, but the novelty of drawing from it has not gone away just yet. I had promised my son I would include the London Eye in one of my sketches – I do like the wheel, but really don’t like drawing it! The bridge is Westminster Bridge, and the clocktower, commonly called Big Ben after the large bell inside, is siply called the Clock Tower – for now. The powers that be decided recently that they would like to rename it Elizabeth Tower, in honour of the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee (the tower on the other side of parliament is called Victoria Tower, renamed from the previous King’s Tower for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The Thames will always be the Thames, however (unless Britain gets totally broke and sells the naming rights, the JP Morgan River or something; I am surprised they haven’t considered such things already).
After completing the first sketch, I then decided that I needed to do a full two-spread panorama from the eastern span, looking out towards the City of London. It was an incredibly windy, sunny day, and lots of people passed by as I sketched. It took me nearly two hours to draw the view below, the skyline of London, ever evolving. In the right hand side, the tall glass 1984-ish Shard building pokes into view. St.Paul’s of course is in the middle, the dome being the symbol of London, and on the right is Cleopatra’s Needle, which of course pre-dates Cleopatra by centuries. Spanning the Thames is Waterloo Bridge, designed by the same fellow that gave us the classic red phone box and the old Bankside power station (now Tate Modern). Click on the sketch below for a larger image.