Commerce (II)

From: The Second Website of Bob Speel:

“Holborn Viaduct was created to improve the approach to the City of London from the west via the steep-sided Holborn Hill and over the Fleet valley. The viaduct was built in 1860s by the Improvement Committee of the City of London, with the City Surveyor William Heywood as the architect, and took 6 years and over £2 million to complete – a huge cost for the time.

The structure consists of a cast-iron girder bridge with three spans, held up on granite piers, and framed originally by four Renaissance-style houses, of which two survive complete. The interior of the Viaduct also contained a subway for gas, water and telegraph pipes, a passage and a sewer.

The sculptural interest lies in the four bronze larger-than-life sized allegorical figures on the Viaduct, and the two figures and other ornament on the surviving houses. As well, there are bronze winged lions on top, and much in the way of decorative ironwork below.

The four main figures do not line up, as the Viaduct does not cross the road underneath (Farringdon) at right angles. Two of the figures are by Henry Bursill, and made by the celebrated firm of Elkington. They are Commerce, with open hand, money, and the key to the City of London by her feet, and Agriculture, with scythe, corn, and some sort of belt on the floor, perhaps a harness for oxen. Both figures are fairly solid and statuesque.”

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