The great period of London bridge construction was in the 19th century, culminating in the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 30 bridges between Hampton Court in the west and St Katharine's Dock just to the east of the City of London. Of these, 20 were for road transport and pedestrian use and ten were for railway traffic.

The new century was marked by a period of bridge renewal. The motor vehicle revolution required existing structures to be strengthened. In many instances, however, bridges were found to be unsafe and a complete rebuilding was required. During the late 1920s and early 30s, new bridges were built in west London. The new arterial road, known as the Great Chertsey Road, crossed the Thames twice and required new bridges at Twickenham and Chiswick.

The three great Rennie bridges of central London were all demolished. The first to go was Southwark Bridge, replaced in 1921 by one designed by the engineer Basil Mott. Waterloo Bridge closed in 1934 because its piers were sinking. A new bridge designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in conjunction with the engineers Rendel, Palmer and Tritton was completed during the Second World War.

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