Bridges close to Smithfield need urgent repairs

Bridges close to Smithfield Market need urgent repairs
Bridges close to Smithfield Market need urgent repairs

The bridges near one of London’s oldest markets, soon to be transformed into the new home for the Museum of London, are set to get urgent repairs.

The City of London Corporation has agreed to pay for works on the old bridges to ensure pieces of broken concrete don’t fall on to the live rail tracks.

Its projects subcommittee signed off on the funding on Tuesday (12 September), after being given a report that deemed the works near the Smithfield meat and poultry market “essential”.

Both West Smithfield and Charterhouse Street (Thameslink) Bridges need remedial work, identified as part of their regular two-yearly inspections.

The report to the committee said both of the structures were old, but in “fair condition”, but with some critical components reported as in “very poor condition and requiring significant maintenance works.”

It said inspections had uncovered a potential for spalling – or loosened concrete – to fall on to the live railway on West Smithfield’s two spans and Charterhouse Street’s single span.

Spalling of West Smithfield’s concrete-encased girders has been reported, and the concrete encasing of the bottoms of the girders that brace Charterhouse Street Bridge’s arches are also spalling, leaving the interior wrought iron structure exposed.

The committee approved the recommended plan, with a budget of about £684,000 to carry out the works due for completion by the end of 2019/20.

Markets committee chairman James Tumbridge said his committee had raised concerns “many times” over West Smithfield bridge due to potential for remedial works to affect the meat and poultry market’s traders, asking that information be provided so that traders could be consulted throughout the repairs.

Meanwhile, the traders have been told they will be likely to need to up pitches, as Smithfield’s is likely to move to a new site after the Corporation’s review resulted in a proposal to merge three of its markets on a new site.

Smithfield is more than 800 years old, making it one of the oldest market sites in London.

Part of its historic Victorian building is set to be transformed into the new home for the Museum of London, which is set to be moved from its Barbican site to the West Smithfield site, bringing disused buildings back into use, in a project backed by major donations from the City Corporation and City Hall.

The Corporation’s market committee last month (August) agreed “in principle” to a proposal to relocate Smithfields and combine it with the Billingsgate fish market and the Spitalfields fruit, vegetable and flower markets.

The proposal, still subject to a feasibility study and public consultation, will mean the Corporation needs to find a new site of about 100 acres to house the combined markets.

Cover image by Jorge Royan (Creative Commons).