Victoria Embankment opened 9th may 1874 here are some hidden facts

In Search of 15 Hidden Facts of London’s Embankment

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On the 9th May 1874, Victoria Embankment opened to the public, nearly 150 years on, the area affectionally termed as the Embankment, looks as new as the day the granite lined walls was dropped in place. I thought it be a good idea to look behind the scenes of one of the most recognisable river fronts in the world. 

This Oil painting illustrates the opening of Victoria Embankment. We link this image from the London Museum website.  Why not pop into the museum and have a look?

Victoria Embankment linked canvas picture from the museum of London website
Victoria Embankment linked canvas picture from the Museum of London website

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Hidden Secrets of the Embankment

  1. The Embankment was originally ramshackle of odd buildings, some expensive riverside dwellings, and broad undefined waterfront
  2. They spent £450,000 buying up the property that originally stood to line the Embankment.
  3. They estimated the cost of the Build to stand at £1,260,000, using an approximate measure of inflation, in today’s money this could be £140 Million, Seem woefully small, the value of rebuilding that stretch today as a civil engineering project? Any guesses comment below
  4. They built the Embankment in a 3 part section; they gave each section the names Albert, Victoria, and Chelsea.  If you are familiar with London’s Embankment you would also be familiar with those names, it might be a surprise the project was of such a scale. They planned it as a 3 piece development. Just take a moment to think of the planning, the workforce, the organisation. This was 1800s London. Consider a civil engineering project in recent times i.e. Docklands and then consider taking all the phones away from the workforce, computers, etc. Impressive.
  5. The Victoria Embankment section is 1 and a 1/4 miles long
  6. Christopher Wren even saw on rebuilding the Embankment after the Great Fire of London 1666. The Government did not adopt Christopher Wren’s plan so London missed out on a Wren designed Embankment
  7. They dammed the Thames in 2 places to allow for the builders to build the foundations and wall.
  8. Foundations of Portland concrete and granite wall go down 32 1/2 feet below high water mark.
  9. The road is 64 feet wide – now contains a cycle superhighway
  10. Lions fit for kings, stand on the embankment with huge mooring chain hoops
  11. Gotha Bomber dropped a 50kg bomb on the Embankment which exploded on the pavement next to the Sphinx and a passing tram. It killed the Tram driver and 2 passengers. The sphinx today still has the shrapnel damage from that ww1 bomb attack.
  12.  They built 2 Gardens as part of the project,  which faces the back of Whitehall buildings.
  13. They buried a 19th Century time capsule under Cleopatra’s Needle. The contents of this, British Currency, Railway guide, 12 picture portraits, and the bible.
  14. Apparently, the Northern Line platform at Embankment station is the only place on the network where you can hear the original recording of ‘Mind the Gap’. The Announcers widow wrote a letter asking if they could play it, to hear his voice again. Comment below if you have recorded this unique recording.
  15. Embankment station has a hidden substation attached to it, why it is there will be in the next dispatches



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