This week in 1959: The Hammersmith Flyover

Depending upon which way you’re heading, the Hammersmith Flyover is either an exhilarating escape ramp or the last chance for a glimpse of sky before plunging into west London.

Depending upon which way you’re heading, the Hammersmith Flyover is either an exhilarating escape ramp, lifting you above the grime of London and sending you westward, or the last chance for a glimpse of sky before plunging downward to the clogged bowels of west London.

Commenting on the planning approval for the flyover in 1959, The Engineer viewed it very differently, describing the initial design as ‘an outstanding one, marrying aesthetic and functional requirements in a praiseworthy manner.’ Try telling that to anyone who lives underneath it.

The estimated cost for the flyover, which carries the A4 over the Hammersmith Broadway road junction, was, reported The Engineer, £1,201,000.

‘The structure of the viaduct,’ continued the article ‘will be of pre-stressed concrete, arranged in 14 spans, nine of 140ft, four of 120ft and one of 74ft. this length of 1,814ft being increased by approach ramps to a total of 2,812ft. The main structural element is a continuous hollow concrete spine beam 25ft wide and varying in depth from 6ft 6in at mid-span to 9ft at the support.’ Intriguingly, The Engineer also mentioned the proposed use of ‘a system of heating cables embedded in the road surface to prevent ice.’ The magazine was unable to discover whether this forward looking suggestion ever made it into the final designs.

The flyover was eventually built in 1961 by Marples-Ridgeway, a road construction company owned by Conservative transport minister Ernest Marples.