Wheelchair user in front of Hammersmith Bridge

How the closure of Hammersmith Bridge has impacted one wheelchair user in Barnes

Hammersmith Bridge has now been closed for just over two years, effectively cutting off Barnes residents and leaving them living in what they describe as complete isolation.

The bridge has been closed to pedestrians since 13 August, making it a no go zone for residents like Toby Gordon-Smith, 46.

Toby had a paragliding accident after crashing into a beach in France ten years ago, leaving him with a spinal injury. 

He has been in a wheelchair ever since, and described Hammersmith Bridge as a lifeline for him as a disabled resident.

NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE: The tale of Hammersmith Bridge and what it’s meant for wheelchair user and resident, Toby Gordon-Smith

Toby said: “As a wheelchair user there are no alternatives for me.

“When Hammersmith Bridge was cut off, suddenly you are isolated in this part of Barnes where you’re just surrounded by a river.

“I am completely cut off and there’s no end in sight.”

Toby used to be able to see his office from across the Thames, where he lives with his wife and son in a ground floor flat just by the south entrance of Hammersmith Bridge. 

He is the CEO of Grass & Co, a CBD start-up that’s situated across the river, and what was initially a 10 minute commute is now anything between 30 minutes to an hour and a half. 

His colleagues who come from Putney and Croydon can get to the office quicker than him now due to the closure of the bridge. 

Closed Hammersmith Bridge
SHUTTERS DRAWN: Hammersmith Bridge has been out of action since 2019 for motorists and 2020 for pedestrians and cyclists

Toby decided to live in Barnes seven years ago because of the accessibility the bridge offered to him as a wheelchair user. 

There are no nearby stations that are wheelchair accessible aside from Hammersmith Station.

In 2014, a cluster of tiny micro-fractures were found in the 133-year-old cast-iron suspension bridge. 

In 2019 the bridge was closed off to cars, and with fears mounting over the possibility of the bridge corroding and plunging into the Thames, it was then shut off from pedestrians and cyclists. 

The Government and Hammersmith & Fulham Council are still in dispute over who should foot the bill

In September 2020 a Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce was set up by the Department for Transport, chaired by Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the department.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council have not responded to a request for comment.

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