London market dating from 1682

12 Mar

From the austere London Bridge, which sits on a site occupied by bridges for more than 2,000 years, to the gaudy crimson and cream steelwork of Blackfriars Bridge, many of the capital's bridges are works of art in their own right.

Now, for the first time, London's 20 river crossings are to get a starring role in a new exhibition, Bridge, which explores the pivotal role they played over the centuries as well as their impact on the arts.

Featuring photos by James Abbott Mc Neill Whistler, Charles Ginner, William Raban and Lucinda Grange among others, the exhibition, at the Museum of London Docklands, also offers a snapshot of the changing face of the capital over the last 200 years.

Later, the bridge was famously used to display the heads of traitors executed at the nearby tower, beginning with Scottish rebel William Wallace who was made an example of by Edward I 'Hammer of the Scots' in 1305.

The medieval bridge stood for more than 600 years but in 1831, it was decided a new bridge was needed and a John Rennie design was chosen.

Earliest of all the photos is a rare snap taken by pioneering photographer William Henry Fox Talbot in 1845, which shows the original Isambard Kingdom Brunel Hungerford Bridge - demolished just 15 years after it was built.

Fox Talbot invented the precursor to the modern camera and system of fixing photos that dominated the 19th and 20th centuries, until digital photography became pre-eminent in the early years of the 21st.