To coincide with the launch of the first phase of Illuminated River, the British Film Institute has specially curated an online collection of films from the BFI National Archive. With films dating back to 1896, London’s Bridges on Film aims to celebrate over 100 years of life of the Thames, foregrounding the role of the bridges as vital links unifying both sides of the river.
The Thames has long drawn the attention of filmmakers, with this selection of films taking the form of travelogues, news reports, industrial films, documentaries, fiction film rushes and amateur home movies. These films capture the daily interaction of Londoners at work and play while showcasing the architecture of the bridges themselves.
Highlights from the collection include Tower Bridge Boats on The Thames (1905), a snapshot of Edwardian London showing Old London Bridge busy with traffic and Opening of New Lambeth Bridge (1932) which sees King George V cross the newly opened bridge at Lambeth Palace. Also included are Rebuilding of London Bridge (1967) showing the simultaneous construction and destruction of New London Bridge and Canoe (1961), a colourful amateur film following a canoe trip from Surrey to Greenwich alongside working boats on the river traveling under the bridges of central London.
London’s Bridges on FiIm is available to view now for free in the UK on BFI Player.