The Spectacular Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin


The spectacular Rolling Bridge is a part of the Grand Union Canal office & retail development project at Paddington Basin in London. It is a type of curling, movable bridge that has a hydraulic design. Its movement can more accurately be described as curling instead of rolling as is the connotation of its name. Visitors will find it best to stay at Park Grand London Paddington so that they are located at a walking distance from the bridge and they can see it in operation on a Friday afternoon with ease.

Bridge Design: The design of the bridge incorporates eight triangular sections hinged at the walkway level and connected above by two-part links that can be collapsed towards the deck by hydraulic cylinders which are concealed in vertical posts in the bridge parapets. It becomes 12 metres long when extended, resembling a conventional steel and timber footbridge. In order for the bridge to curl up and allow passage of boats, the hydraulic pistons are activated that curl up the bridge until its two ends join forming an octagonal shape measuring one half of the waterway’s width at that point. Due to its unique design, the British Structural Design Award was won by the Rolling Bridge in 2005. Some maintenance problems in 2008 led to temporary stoppage of operations but after the problems were sorted out, it became fully operational from April 2009.

Viewing the Bridge Operations – Once a week, at around midday on Fridays, two members of staff from Paddington Waterside Partnership bring the controls to operate the bridge. On some days, there are many people standing there to see the bridge opening up and on other days, there is just a handful. The hydraulic system that opens and closes the bridge is fitted into the balustrade. The whole spectacle of the opening and closing is a beautiful thing to watch as it appears very graceful. The operation can be stopped at any point of the curl but it is usually not necessary to do so. The operator stops only when fully open or fully closed. When it is fully open and has spread out across the inlet, people are permitted to walk across. The bridge is extremely stable in spite of its temporary structure. When it has been used for a few minutes and there are no more people left for crossing it, the second member of staff blocks the way as a safety measure and then the bridge is operated to curl back.

How to Reach the Bridge: Irrespective of where you are staying in London, the best way to reach the bridge for viewing its operations is to reach Paddington Station. You should come out of the tube station at Praed Street and walk towards St Mary’s Hospital. You then need to turn left after you see ‘Peterson Cabin’ and ‘The Bays’ sign post. Follow the path until you see a foot bridge. Cross here and walk to the right. You will see another foot bridge but you should not cross that one and instead, keep walking and you will find the Rolling Bridge in front of you. You may not have seen anything like that before and as such you should enjoy the sight and the experience.

Does the Name Aptly Describe the Bridge? The designer of the Rolling Bridge has stuck to this name on his website but it needs to be regarded just as a name of this bridge as it has nothing to do with its type or its operation. It would have been more apt to have named it the “Curling Bridge”. In any case, this curling bridge is the only one of its kind known to exist in this world. Traditionally, a rolling bridge is a type of retractable drawbridge that is used to span a ditch or moat surrounding a fort. Such a bridge is not hinged and it remains horizontal when it is rolled inside the gates of a fort. Such bridges are known to have existed in the Victorian era. Similar versions nowadays are known as retractable bridges or thrust bridges. An example of a type of rolling bridge which is a Guthrie rolling bridge can be seen at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth. Some types of bascule bridges roll on an arc, such as the Pegasus Bridge.

Nearby Attractions of London: Visitors to London who wish to see the Rolling Bridge will find it convenient to stay at Park Grand London Paddington as it provides comfortable accommodation at an affordable cost and a strategic location close to the various attractions of the city, particularly the Rolling Bridge. The other attractions that they can visit easily include Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace, Serpentine Lake, Serpentine Gallery, Serpentine Solar Shuttle, Alexander Fleming Museum, Bryan’s Boat Trips, Canal Café Theatre, Cascade Gallery, Connaught Square & Gardens, Fleming’s Laboratory, Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Leicester Square Gardens, Little Venice, Norfolk Square Gardens, Paddington Library, Porchester Square Gardens, The Puppet Barge, St John’s Church, Sussex Gardens, Whiteleys Shopping Centre, London Zoo, Royal Albert Hall, Imperial College London and many more.

Fine Dining Options: Moreover, they have a wide selection of restaurants and bars located close to the hotel that include Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Nobu and many others. The other restaurants in Paddington include The Summerhouse, Frontline Restaurant, Satay House, Pearl Liang, Angelus Restaurant, Zizzy Paddington, Desejo do Brazil, Noor Jahan 2, Nipa Thai, Cristini, Clarke’s, Al-Dar 1, Launceston Place, Stick & Bowl, Alounak, Radizio Rico, 35 Restaurant, Aberdeen Steak Houses, Abu Zaad, Akash, Al Arez, Al Balad, Al Deewan, Angus Steakhouse, Antony’s, Arbil Restaurant and Ask.