London's Hammersmith Bridge sealed off as could collapse any minute

The 133-year-old bridge is completely sealed off to traffic with police cordoning it.

The bridge which crosses the River Thames is closed amid fears it could collapse after safety inspectors found cracks in the structure had worsened amid the recent heatwave.

Police have sealed the area off from cars and even river traffic on the Thames isn’t allowed near it.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council made the decision to also shut the crossing to people on foot and on bikes yesterday evening after a ‘sudden deterioration in key parts of the structure.’

A statement from Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: ‘Hammersmith Bridge is closed to pedestrians and river traffic from 5pm today (13 August) because of an increased risk to public safety due to a sudden deterioration in key parts of the suspension structure.

‘Specialist engineers have been undertaking 24/7 monitoring of the structural integrity of the bridge throughout using an extensive network of sensors on the 19th century structure.

‘The deterioration in the structure was exacerbated by the recent heatwave which caused cracks to significantly increase – despite measures taken to mitigate the heat.

‘The bridge will remain closed until the engineers are confident that it is safe to re-open to pedestrians and river traffic.

‘It means that pedestrians and cyclists must now cross the river elsewhere, while all river traffic under the bridge will also be stopped – including the pedestrian walkways under Hammersmith Bridge – while engineers examine the extent of the damage.’

Councillor Stephen Cowan said: ‘Safety is the number one priority. I’m absolutely sure that we averted a catastrophe by closing this 19th century suspension bridge to motor vehicles last year.

‘We have some of the best engineers in the world working on this scheme. They advise we now face a similar dilemma.

‘I appreciate how inconvenient this will be to thousands of people on both sides of the river and I am sorry about that, but we must follow the engineers’ advice which is why the bridge will be closed with immediate effect today.

‘We will update everyone as soon as engineers have investigated the scale of the recent damage. I have instructed them to find a plan to safely reopen it as quickly as they can.’

The nearest river crossing is Barnes Bridge two miles away.

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