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A Short Account Of The Methods Made Use Of in Laying the Foundation of the Piers of Westminster Bridge. With An Answer to the chief Objections that have been made thereto. Drawn up by Order of the Right Hon. &c. the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for building a Bridge at Westminster. To which are annex'd, The Plans, Elevations and Sections belonging to a Design of a Stone-Bridge, adapted to the Stone Piers which are to support Westminster-Bridge, with an Explanation of that Design. By Charles Labelye, Engineer.

Charles Labelye

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed by A. Parker, for the Author., M DCC XXXIX.

Physical Description

[iv], vi, 82 p., [1] pl. (fold.); 206 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

In most copies the folded plate is not present.

Responsibility Note

The plate is captioned as 'A Design ... by Charles Labelye ...' and is signed by P. Fourdrinier as engraver.

The work is dedicated by the author to the Commissioners.


RIBA, Early printed books, 2 (1995), 1707; E. Harris and N. Savage, British Architectural Books (1990), 405; A.W. Skempton, British civil engineering 1640-1840: a bibliography (1987), 812.

J. Sweetman, The artist and the bridge 1700-1920 (1999); D.J. Brown, Bridges: three thousand years of defying nature (1993); N. Kent, 'Innovator in stone: Charles Labelye, 1705-82', in Country life, 174 (1983), p.1374-6; R.J.B. Walker, Old Westminster Bridge: the bridge of fools (1979); Ted Ruddock, Arch bridges and their builders, 1735-1785 (1979); J. Gies, Bridges and men (1963).
ESTC, T48092

Summary Note

This is an account of what would become the largest stone bridge in Britain, described by Belidor as 'the most magnificent monument of our times' and depicted and drawn by Samuel Scott and Canaletto. Born in Switzerland, Labelye had first visited Britain in the early 1720s and by 1728 had settled in London. His designs for the bridge were based on an earlier design by Colen Campbell. Construction was completed in 1747, but excessive settlement of some piers necessitated repairs, so that the bridge was not fully open to traffic until November 1750. In 1854-1860 a new, cast-iron bridge was constructed by Thomas Page.


Microfilm versions were published in 2006 (Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Microfilm [imprint of Thomson Gale]) and 1974 (New Haven, CT: Research Publications).


The front pastedown carries the 18th-century armorial book-plate of Joseph Smith. Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

Contemporary vellum, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Westminst. Bridge L. 1739'.

Name as Subject


Westminster Bridge (London) - Bridges - Engineering - Masonry - Great Britain - London - History - 18th century
Plans - Elevations - Sections - Great Britain - 18th century