Residents and businesses in South West London have been outraged after they were told this week that Hammersmith Bridge will remain shut to traffic until 2027.

The new timelines for repairs to the iconic Bridge were explained in a virtual public meeting of the task force set up by Roads Minister Baroness Vere, who told the meeting that a full repair of the bridge would take six and a half years, more than twice as long as everyone had imagined. The project’s Director estimated it would cost a staggering £13.9 million to carry out emergency stabilisation work, and a further £32 million worth of permanent stabilisation work.

The 133 year old Victorian Bridge was further shut to pedestrians and cyclists on 13 August when the cracks widened in a heatwave, forcing commuters, residents and pupils in south-west London to make long diversions to adjacent bridges in order to cross.

People assume that the concerns solely lie with those who need to cross the bridge. However, they forget the detrimental impacts that the closure has sparked for the local businesses that used to thrive off those passing by who walked over the bridge. 

Typically, Michael’s Newsagent, in Castelnau, Barnes used to have over 400 buyers of a newspaper every morning. Michael expressed his deep concerns about the future of his business as ‘the sale of newspapers in my shop has almost totally dried up and now less than 10 people a day come in and get one. My whole business is going belly up and I really don’t know how I am going to get through this.’ 

Others have reported that the emergency services cannot reach Barnes and a further extension to the closure of the bridge will only exacerbate the situation, potentially leading to a major catastrophe. Similarly, children returning back home after school needing to get to the other side of the river will be travelling in the dark with an added hour of commuting time. 

There is a glimmer of hope with the possibility of a ferry starting up in February 2021. Plans are underway but there are no answers to how the ferry will work. One local resident, Will, who lives at the foot of the Bridge commented, ‘the big question is whether the ferry will be affordable, frequent or let alone go ahead. We need it to happen – a lot depends on it. And London needs Hammersmith Bridge open again.’