BLACKFRIARS AND CHERRYHILL
The Blackfriars and Cherryhill Neighbourhood
The Blackfriars area is technically the small older neighbourhood that backs onto the west bank of the North Thames River. It enjoys popularity for the character of its older houses and its close proximity to both the downtown and the University of Western Ontario. There are numerous homes in Blackfirars rented out to students and the area tends to have a bit of an “artsy” flair to it. In addition to its location, it also enjoys good services and a network of parks. For real estate purposes the neighbourhood also encompasses the area known as “Cherry Hill,” a grouping of apartments surrounding the Cherry Hill mall. The area tends to attract a high number of seniors and as a result there are number of accompanying services, such as medical practices, that have come to the area to service the needs of its residents. The area is also home to four cemeteries, including Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Blackfriars Street Bridge
The Blackfriars Street Bridge is a wrought iron bowstring truss or tied arch bridge, placed across the North Thames River in 1875 operating now only as a pedestrian bridge. At 216 feet (65.8 meters) it is the longest working span of that kind in North America.
According to bridge historian Nathan Holth:
“Bowstring bridges are one of the rarest types of truss bridges, and most date to the 1870’s. They fell out of favor due to the limited weight they could support. Any bowstring truss bridge that survives today is a miracle. Truss bridges are always intricate structures, but bowstring trusses are even more so. There is lattice, v-lacing, and members all over. This large amount of complexity is balanced by the simple, graceful appearance of the arched top chord. The result is a bridge with incomparable beauty and appeal. Among the rarest and oldest bridges in Canada is this breathtaking iron bowstring truss. Keystone Columns form the top chord. A sidewalk on the south side appears to be original. The bridge has undergone extensive repairs and modifications. Most notably, the top chord has had plates of steel welded to the top of the column. Numerous rods and bars have been welded onto many of the vertical and diagonal members as well. A couple of added bars of steel run lengthwise through the middle of the truss. These modifications have affected the historic integrity of the bridge, but have no doubt helped keep it standing over 130 years. The original lattice guardrails remain on the sidewalk, albeit with a metal pole welded above them.”
The deck surface is presently of renewable planking: a double file of approximately one-thousand, five hundred eight-foot two-by-fours each, on edge, upon a framework of nine longitudinally laid stringers of one-foot iron I-beams, topped with bolted-on wooden cladding, whose ends rest on the two abutments. Attached beneath these are fifteen transverse floor-beams, from which vertical lattice pillars, under tension, translate the live thrusts of traffic to the bowed upper chord, which transfers this back as tension along the bottom-chord “string” of the bow. This bottom chord consists of two sets of four 10 cm x 3 cm wrought-iron eye-bars, running along, outside, both sides of the deck. Although originally two-lane, due to the weight and frequency of modern traffic, the Blackfriars is at present two-way but single-lane. Because of damage to the wooden deck surface and to the iron structure, the bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic and is now used exclusively as a pedestrian walkway.
The Blackfriars Street Bridge (BSB) was manufactured by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company (WIBC) of Canton, Ohio, although erected by local London contractor Isaac Crouse. There is evidence for its being prototypical for a revised design by WIBC, incorporating a double-panel web. The BSB is the successor to a series of fixed, wooden structures at the site since 1831, which were damaged mainly by spring “freshets” of the river. It has been designated a historic structure under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The BSB is the northernmost and oldest of a company of eight bridges of different ages, constructions and uses, surrounding the confluence of the North Thames and Thames rivers, which fixes the historic center of London. The Bridge is sited at the east end of Blackfriars Street on the West and Ridout on the east bank of the North Thames. The river there is bordered on both sides by extensive bicycle and walking paths, and the Bridge is well framed by a variety of second-growth trees.
Much of the “beauty and appeal” of the BSB is its appearing to float, from many profile views provided on both banks of the gently winding river, up and downstream. That is owing not only to its strung-bow shape but also to its light placement, at its very tips, upon modest granite abutments—a feature rare among more modern tied-arch bridges. These abutments bear the passive vertical load of the open structure itself. However, the varying ‘live’ thrust forces of traffic downward on its deck are translated by the bowed chord above into horizontal tensions along the longitudinal iron eye-bars of the ‘string’ or bottom chord running parallel to the deck.
Parks and Other Places of Interest
The area is serviced by a network of parks including Labatt Park, West Lions Park, Cavindish Park, Empress Avenue Park, portions of McKillop Park and Kensington Park, as well as a number of unnamed green spaces. The neighbourhood is also serviced by the Kinsmen Arena.
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334 Wellington Rd. S
London, Ontario N6C 4P6