« PreviousContinue »
• See Appendix.
"The Select Committee appointed to inquire into the state and condition of the Bridges over the Thames, in the Metropolis, to report whether they are adequate to the present vastly increasing traffic; whether it be desirable to construct one or more Bridges over the River; and if so, at what point or points; whether it would be desirable to provide, out of local funds, the means of throwing open to the public the present toll-paying Bridges; and, if so, upon what terms such Bridges could be thrown open, and who were instructed to extend their inquiry to the Bridges over the Thames, within the area subject to the Coal Tax, and who were empowered to report their Observations, together with the Minutes of Evidence, taken before them to the House: Have considered the matters to them referred, and agreed to the following Report:
"Your Committee have taken evidence upon the several points referred to them, and upon the question of the state and condition of the Bridges over the Thames. They are of opinion that London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Charing Cross Bridge, and Vauxhall Bridge, are all in a substantial and durable state; Blackfriars Bridge does not appear to be in a satisfactory condition, but requires considerable repair or rebuilding. Westminster Bridge, being under contract to be pulled down and rebuilt, Your Committee have not thought it within their province to inquire into it.
"All the witnesses concur in thinking, that great inconvenience is felt in the overcrowding of the main thoroughfares of the Metropolis, which is certain to increase, and that additional bridges would mitigate this evil; or by throwing open those bridges which at present pay toll, a considerable benefit would be derived by the public, especially by opening Southwark Bridge, and widening the approach to it on the City or Middlesex side; and by throwing a gallery over the sides of London Bridge for foot passengers, thus adding the present footway to the carriage road.
"Upon the question of whether additional Bridges are required, and if so, at what point or points they should be constructed; Your Committee have examined Mr. Bennoch with reference to a proposed new Bridge, nearly opposite St. Paul's Cathedral; which, if constructed, would permit traffic north and south to cross the River without deviation, and thus prevent many annoying street obstructions, as well as open up a fine view of the Metropolitan Church.
"It has also been stated, that the directors of the Charing Cross Bridge contemplate an alteration of that structure, to render it available for carriage traffic. Mr. Page suggests the construction of a bridge below London Bridge, in the line of Tower Hill, along the road adjoining the western warehouses of St. Catherine's Dock,' which Your Committee think worthy of attention.
"As to whether the toll-paying bridges should be thrown open, to provide the means out of local funds, and the terms upon which such bridges could be thrown open; Your Committee have ascertained that in the case of Southwark and Waterloo Bridges, the receipts from toll are very inconsiderable as compared with the cost of those structures; and upon this head Your Committee beg to refer to their recommendation at the end of this Report. "Your Committee made inquiries into the capability of the Thames Tunnel as an auxiliary in facilitating metropolitan traffic; and, according to the opinion of Mr. Brunel and Mr. Page, the outlay of 150,000 7. in approaches would accomplish that object.
"Whilst Your Committee has been sitting, petitions from Fulham, Kingston, Hampton, and Staines were referred by Your Honourable House to them, praying an extension of the inquiry to those localities; and by resolution of Your Honourable House the inquiries of Your Committee were extended to the area subject to the Coal Tax. Your Committee have examined witnesses from the localities referred to; and found that the effect of toll upon Bridges in the rural districts is not only unpopular, but injurious to trade, tends to depreciate the value of property, and is felt to be a severe tax upon the poorer classes, whose occupations may compel them to cross the River daily. A very general opinion has been expressed, that the levying of a rate, or the continuance of the Coal Tax, would be far preferable to the charge now made upon certain Bridges.
Your Committee, therefore, recommend that, with a view to some general plan for improving the communications between the two sides of the River Thames, in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, including the Metropolis, an Act should be introduced during next Session of Parliament, wherein may be embodied all such clauses as may be found necessary to provide for the construction and maintenance of new Bridges, if and where needed; the redemption and support of those now liable to toll; as also to provide the necessary funds, either by way of rate, or by a participation in the Coal Tax, if that tax should be continued; and that in the introduction of such a measure, it is most desirable to have the sanction and support of Her Majesty's Government, as well as the concurrence of the Corporation of London, or that of the Board of Works for the Metropolis, suggested to be formed by the Royal Commissioners in their Report upon the Corporation of the City of London, if that Board should be created, as therein recommended."
Draft Report proposed by Mr. Jackson, read 1o as follows:
"The Select Committee appointed to inquire into the state and condition of the Bridges over the Thames, in the Metropolis, to report whether they are adequate to the present
vastly increasing traffic, and whether it is desirable to construct one or more bridges over the river; if so, at what point or points; whether it would be desirable to provide, out of local funds, the means of throwing open to the public the present toll-paying bridges; and, if so, upon what terms such bridges should be thrown open: Have agreed to the following Report:
"Your Committee have examined witnesses with a view to discharging the duty entrusted to them, and have, in the first place, directed their attention to the state and condition of the several metropolitan bridges. With respect to these, they have to report that, with two exceptions, namely, Blackfriars and Westminster, the whole of the metropolitan bridges are in a satisfactory and durable condition. Of those in good repair, Southwark, Waterloo, and Vauxhall Bridges, and Charing-cross Foot Bridge, are spoken of by persons well competent F. Brand, 2-6. to form an opinion as being in the most substantial state. These, however, are toll-bridges, and in the hands of private companies. London Bridge is reported by Your Committee in R. L. Jones, 1-10. a satisfactory condition. As to Blackfriars Bridge, the evidence brought before Your Com
R. L. Jones, 1–15.
mittee leaves no doubt as to its being insufficiently perfect; and the Court of Common S. Bateson, 3–11. Council has given its approval to a proposal for entirely removing the present structure, and replacing it by a new bridge. Your Committee does not consider it within its province to report on the condition of Westminster Bridge, as a contract for pulling it down and rebuilding it has actually been entered into.
"With regard to the adequacy of the present bridges in the Metropolis to accommodate the existing traffic, Your Committee have examined numerous witnesses, whose opinion they consider especially valuable as connected with the bridges; and they report that the present accommodation is altogether insufficient; that there is every probability of this deficiency being still further felt; and that it is imperatively necessary to adopt measures to mitigate the evil. To meet this end, several schemes have been submitted to Your Committee: 1st. It is proposed to open free of toll those bridges which are at present private property. 2dly. To increase the width, and consequently the convenience of several of the existing bridges. 3dly. To enlarge and improve the approaches to them. 4thly. To make the Thames Tunnel available for traffic. 5thly. To construct a tubular iron superway, so as to connect the most important points in the Metropolis; and, lastly, to build additional bridges.
"After a most careful consideration of the evidence which has been brought before them, Your Committee consider that the expediency of removing the present tolls, on the different bridges between Staines and London Bridge, is established beyond the possibility of a doubt. They find that, by the present system, the burden is most unequally divided; the traffic is diverted from the most direct route; and, in consequence, the open thoroughfares are choked, and rendered almost impassable, by the collection of merchandise and passenger traffic, which would disperse and spread itself if there were more channels of escape provided. This S. Laing, 1, 2. inconvenience is especially felt at London Bridge, where not only great delay, but even danger is_incurred by the vast concentration of traffic on one spot, owing not only to the ordinary London traffic, but to the enormous additional transit produced by the neighbouring railway termini. Similar inconvenience is caused by the cross-traffic' at Westminster J. R. Maclean, 3. 8. Bridge; and Your Committee is decidedly of opinion, that in both instances it would be materially diminished if the intermediate toll bridges were thrown open to the public. The evidence with respect to the supra-metropolitan bridges establishes conclusively that, by the present tolls, not only is the public inconvenienced, local trade impeded, and the accommodation and safety diminished, but it is also found that the burden of the tax falls most Rev. E. Woodward, heavily on those who are least able to bear it. The local feeling in favour of a change of this nature has been most unequivocally declared, for the witnesses examined by Your Com- Major Boileau. mittee testify to the hardships produced by the existing tolls, and are nearly unanimous in their anticipation of the good effect to be produced by distributing the burden of maintaining and increasing the present accommodation.
"Your Committee is also of opinion that the present and prospective state of the metropolitan traffic renders the building of several new bridges, in addition to the means already recommended, imperatively necessary. With respect to the sites best applicable to this purpose they have examined several well-qualified witnesses, and they recommend to Your Honourable House to adopt the suggestions of Mr. Page, viz., that a bridge should be built Thos. Page, 6. 10. below London Bridge; the approach on the Middlesex side to be from Tower Hill, the height B. W. Horne, 6. 14. of which should be such as not to obstruct the navigation as at present established. The large population east of London Bridge, on both sides of the river, renders this proposition particularly advisable, as the want of accommodation has long been felt, and Your Committee cannot recommend any alteration in the approaches to the Thames Tunnel, as the result of such alteration would not, in their opinion, be adequate to the expense. They further report in Jones, Leith, Brunel, Walker, Laing, favour of the suggestion of Mr. Tite, to build a bridge to be approached from the north by Tite, 6. 1. a continuation of Aldersgate-street, at Old Change, in the neighbourhood of St. Paul's, which would not only materially relieve the traffic which at present flows east and west, but would also open out the approaches to, and the view of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
"And Your Committee is also impressed with the necessity for providing another bridge in the immediate neighbourhood of Charing Cross. The evidence in favour of this is conclusive, but with regard to the mode of carrying out the plan they lay before Your Honourable House two suggestions: first, to build an entirely new structure at this point; and,
secondly, to alter the existing Suspension Bridge, so as to admit of carriage as well as passenger traffic. In connexion with this subject, Your Committee wish to urge upon your honourable consideration the necessity for providing a sufficient thoroughfare on the Surrey side for the enlarged traffic which will be there collected by the increased bridge accommodation.
"The evidence which Your Committee have taken with reference to the bridges above Vauxhall satisfies them that an immediate change is called for in the management of them. The tolls on all of them are sources of great annoyance and injury to the public; many of them are insecure and insufficiently managed, and are a serious injury to the value of the adjoining property; and Your Committee have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely requisite that the whole of the bridges, as far as Staines, should be made free, and placed under the care and control of a Trust, and that Parliamentary powers should be granted for that purpose.
"With regard to the best mode of providing for the purchase, and the future maintenance, and increase of the bridge accommodation, Your Committee are decidedly of opinion that a rate to be levied over the whole of the district to be benefited by the proposed alteration is at once the most just and the most simple plan to be adopted. They suggest that this rate should extend over the area of the present Coal Tax, and that it should be based on an equitable adjustment of the owners and occupiers of the property which will be affected beneficially by the improvements which they have recommended. In making this suggestion, Your Committee feel that it is the one which will give the greatest satisfaction to the public, as by this means the taxation will be spread over the largest population, and by this means, too, all will contribute to the advantage in which all participate."
Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Draft Report proposed by the Chairman be now read a second time." Amendment proposed to leave out the words "the Chairman,” and to insert the words "Mr. Jackson" in lieu thereof. Question, "That the words The Chairman' stand part of the Question," put and negatived. Words "Mr. Jackson" inserted accordingly. Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
Draft Report, proposed by Mr. Jackson, read a second time, paragraph by paragraph. Several Amendments made.
Amendment proposed (Lord R. Grosvenor), at the end of the Report, to add the words following: "But they consider the facility of communication throughout the Metropolis to be so far an Imperial concern, as to warrant the giving facilities on the part of Government for raising the necessary funds." Question, "That these words be there added," put. The Committee divided :