Protestors gathered on Putney Embankment last weekend to highlight the loss of the Boat Race and “inaction” over Hammersmith Bridge.

Residents, rowing club members and school children joined Putney MP Fleur Anderson on Saturday (April 3) to call on the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to fund the bridge’s restoration.

Hundreds turned out on the Embankment to add their signatures to a banner that read: “Putney says reopen Hammersmith Bridge.”

Protestors sign Hammersmith Bridge banner

Protestors sign Hammersmith Bridge banner

The annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge universities has been held on the River Thames almost every year since 1856—apart from in wartime due to dangers from v1 rockets.

This year the iconic race was moved to the Great Ouse, Cambridgeshire, following uncertainty over the safety and navigation of Hammersmith Bridge.

Putney MP, Fleur Anderson, has been vocal about her frustration over the progress of the bridge, which has been closed for almost two years.

Fleur Anderson speaks on Hammersmith Bridge closure

Fleur Anderson speaks on Hammersmith Bridge closure

Speaking after the event, Ms Anderson said: “Hammersmith Bridge remains closed and despite the recent announcement of a ferry service its eventual reopening feels a long way off.

“The closure of the bridge is not really just about the boat race. It’s about the amount of pollution that’s going down Putney High Street due to the diversions and the daily effect of local people and businesses.

“About 4,000 extra vehicles go through Putney every day. Last September the government set up a taskforce, there seems to be little task and no force about it.”

Boats from the London Rowing Club, Wandsworth Youth River Club and Putney High Boat Club took to the water to protest the closure.

Protestors sign Hammersmith Bridge banner

Protestors sign Hammersmith Bridge banner

Students from nearby independent school, Putney High, also joined Saturday’s campaign.

Headteacher Suzie Longstaff, who previously coxed Cambridge University’s men’s crew, voiced her concerns over the inequalities the shutdown of the bridge has created.

“The bridge closure has drawn a line through south west London, with school children amongst those bearing the brunt of the split. Pupils who have the misfortune to live on the ‘wrong side’ are now enduring long commutes simply to cross the river to school,” she said.

Ms Anderson added:

“What we have seen on Saturday from local residents and organisations is absolutely fantastic. It really demonstrates the strong current of frustration and disappointment that not only is the bridge still closed, but that a funding solution still seems so far away.

“I will not be giving up on this issue and will continue to press for funding to allocated so I am not stood on Putney Embankment with this banner again this time next year.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said £4 million has been put into emergency mitigation work on the bridge.

The DfT said they are in discussions with Hammersmith and Fulham Council over longer-term funding, which it said must be balanced between supporting the project and ensuring fairness for the UK taxpayer.