Cannon Street Railway Bridge

Summer 2019

Network Rail
Sir John Hawkshaw

Nothing whatsoever to do with weaponry, Cannon Street got its name as a shortening of the 17th century word ‘candelwrichstrete’ which means ‘street of candle makers’. The area sits within the Ward of Candlewick, one of 25 ancient subdivisions of the City of London.

Cannon Street Bridge, designed by Sir John Hawkshaw and originally opened in 1866, consists of five impressive spans supported by cast iron Doric pillars. The railway bridge carries trains from Cannon Street station across the Thames.

Many of the original ornamental features were removed when the bridge was extensively renovated by British Rail in 1982. However, two brick towers from the original bridge remain on the river front. The towers conceal large tanks that contain enough water to power Cannon Street station’s hydraulic lifts.

Photo: Can Pac Swire

Artist’s Vision

Cannon Street Bridge, despite being one of the oldest bridges on the Thames, had never been lit before. Villareal's artwork celebrates the bridge's oft- overlooked utilitarian character and monumental Doric columns, with subtle kinetic colours mirroring the motion of the trains passing above.

Left: the former lighting on Cannon Street Railway Bridge. Right: Leo Villareal’s Illuminated River artwork.

Leo Villareal discusses the inspiration behind his artwork for Cannon Street Bridge.

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