Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How wide is a piece of River Thames...

Thames view, 27 April 2007
Above is the view I had whilst waiting for Mark to arrive when we all went for a few drinks on the South Bank on Friday night (on Sunday I found lots of photos I took of us in front of St Paul's of which I have no recollection). Care to hazard a guess as to how wide the Thames is here? Here are our predictions:

  • Keith - 400 yards
  • Mark - 250 yards 'tops'
  • Me - 200 yards
  • Katy - 300 yards
  • Lisa - 250 yards
Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844 tells us that
Waterloo Bridge. - To the spirited exertions and unceasing perseverance of the late Mr. George Dodd, an active, enterprising, and skilful engineer, the public are indebted for the erection of this distinguished ornament of the metropolis which was commenced by him, but completed by Mr. Rennie.
Get to the point!
Its length, within the abutments, is 1240 feet, and its width, within the balustrades, is 42 feet, seven of which, on each side, are appropriated to foot passengers. ... The views from this edifice are extensive and beautiful, and are much enlivened by the perpetual passage of steam boats and other vessels, that, in the summer season, considerably heighten the panoramic beauties of this delightful promenade.
I wonder if English Heritage campaigned to save the 'perpetual passage of steam boats' in order to preserve the view?

That length turns out to be an overestimate. Another Bridges over the Thames website confirms that the Millenium Bridge is only 330m long. Subtract a fair bit for the overlap with the banks and the river is probably about 280m long. Which makes Lisa and Katy the winners. So much for the male genetic predisposition for spatial awareness.

The same website has this astounding fact.
Hungerford Bridges

In 1840 Brunel built a suspension bridge across the River at this point but it was replaced by the current bridge in 1864. The chains from the first bridge were however, used in Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge across the River Avon in Bristol.
2 things here:
  1. The Clifton suspension bridge is really famous, rated as being a paradigmatic example of how to 'do' a suspension bridge. But it turns out it's jsut recycled junk (shhh - don't tell the Bristolians)
  2. Apparently we lead very wasteful lives nowadays. But at least we don't go around building entirely new bridges every 24 years!
Apparently the River Thames lifeboat is the busiest in the country. I can well believe it - every time I go to the Youngers Arms on the Thames I see it speeding past.


Anonymous said...

I just measured it on Google Earth. It came to 250m = 275yards. Don't know if that changes the 'winner'.
Talking of bridge dimensions, did you know that London Bridge was widened in 1904 but that weakened its foundations and made it sink, so it was sold to Americans who thought they'd bought Tower Bridge and moved it piece-by-piece to Arizona? Imagine their surprise...
And some interesting insights into the gender division on accurate distance measurement, but maybe it could just be put down to a male tendency to exaggerate?

Rhysickle said...

Good work!

It does change the winner. Katy is now out of the running, and it's a dead heat between Mark and Lisa. Although Mark hedged his bets a bit by inclusion of the word 'tops', which I think should give Lisa the edge.

You'll note that I put forward the smallest guess; some men don't feel the need to exaggerate, for obvious reasons.

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