Trafalgar Avenue bridge

Yes – there is still a bridge taking Trafalgar Avenue over the route of the former Grand Surrey Canal! It was news to this author that the slight rise in the road where it crosses the park disguises a modern concrete replacement bridge, not merely a pile of demolished buildings.

Early Glimpse
A first glimpse of the bridge appears in 2016

It’s not quite clear (maybe someone can explain) why an expensive bridge was built, although the canal had been filled in in 1970.

Unfortunately, bridges need inspecting periodically, and when that time came around last year, it proved to be a bigger task than at first envisaged.

Typically for the development of the park, it was discovered that the void beneath the bridge had been used to dispose of all kinds of waste, including asbestos.

Works have therefore taken quite some time, and the whole space beneath has been excavated in order to build permanent inspection chambers, so that in future, the job will be a bit easier.

Cleared space beneath 2 bays of the bridge
Under-bridge area cleared – visualise a canal now?!

The brick tower next to the bridge above is a ventilation chamber for the 132kV London electricity ring-main, cables for which were laid under the park as it was being developed in the 60s or 70s.

Of course, an imaginative administration might have thought about the posibility of restoring some water to the area, in some sort of memorial to the days of the canal. However, a brick-built inspection chamber is going in and the whole are will be backfilled and restored to grass.

Glass bottle
Archaeological find


Did you spot the ubiquitous R Whites lemonade bottle in the image above? Somehow recovered intact, despite the heavy earth-movers, these can be found all over the park, wherever a hole is dug.



Wooden hump-back bridge over canal
1830 view of what was probably the first Trafalgar bridge, looking west. Glengall wharf and the Peckham branch are behind the artist/extreme left. St Georges church in the background


3 thoughts on “Trafalgar Avenue bridge

  1. There were 2 canal bridges on Trafalgar Avenue Peckham. The first one from the Old Kent Road end used to open by swing method. Lovely old bridge which as children we watched from the side, as the road used to close when in operation. I can still see the bridge in my mind in the 60s. I was born just after the 2WW and we lived off the Old Kent Road on Surrey Square, and then Aldbridge street which was severely bombed. The other canal bridge was further down on Trafalgar, which we called the ‘hump back bridge’.

    There was another canal bridge further down the Old Kent Road before the Astoria Cinema. A dark green-coloured bridge just before Peckham Park Road. We used to look over the bridge as kids, looking at the barges laded with wood. Those were such lovely days of our early life. There was also the rail running from the Bricklayers Arms depot to New Cross. The rail bridge was called ‘Graham Bridge’, and now the lot has gone, with the road now called Dunton Road. We used to spend our summer holidays with an ice jubbly and play around the bomb sites. Everybody was friendly, caring and loving. not like this world nowadays.

    1. Thanks so much for these lovely memories, Danny. It’s surprising to hear Trafalgar bridge was a swing bridge in living memory – this image on the Underground Map website shows a steep rise in the road as if to leave room for barges to pass underneath. The road actually appears to be closed at the bridge in this photo. It would be great to see it still, instead of this hidden concrete bridge now. Mind you, it’d probably have trouble with the current level of traffic.

  2. It wasn’t a swing bridge in 1947 and it wasn’t a swing bridge in the early 50’s. It still wasn’t a swing bridge when they flattened the bridge and put in the concrete bridge.
    There were concrete steps on the left hand side going from south to north and a long slope on the other side. At the top of the steps there was an old cast iron cannon, used as street furniture, and cast iron railings on both sides going over the bridge.
    The only swing bridge I ever remember was somewhere further towards the Thames so I’m guessing Danny has his bridges mixed up.

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