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Clearway’s cleaning of Hammersmith Bridge reveals dangerous structural damage

On 11th April 2019, Hammersmith bridge, opened in 1887, was closed indefinitely as engineers found cracks in the structure that have raised serious safety issues.

Prior to this decision, Clearway were called-in to provide specialist cleaning services to remove years of caked-on, hardened pigeon guano (droppings), to enable engineers to assess the bridge’s structure.

The cleaning process was both difficult and dangerous, requiring operators to work from a cradle using specialist equipment to remove the guano, whilst a boat on the river below was positioned to collect the waste, preventing it from falling into the river. The entire operation was complex and extensive, taking 10 days to complete.

Hammersmith bridge is the weakest of all the bridges that span the Thames and it operates under severe weight restrictions because it was never designed to bear the volume or weight of modern vehicles. Current restrictions allow only one bus in each direction at any one time.

This ongoing situation has finally led to substantial improvement works being implemented and the cracks found in the structure have left the Council with no option other than to close the bridge indefinitely pending further investigation. The bridge remains open to pedestrians and cyclists.

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