A bridge in London has a bale of straw suspended over the river Thames as a measure to warn those travelling under it that the headroom under the bridge has been reduced.

While straw is in short supply in many places due to weather-related challenges in the tillage harvest this year, the City Bridge Foundation is lucky enough to be able to source its straw from a farm in Essex.

The City Bridge Foundation incorporated a straw bale as a measure to warn those travelling beneath the Millennium Bridge that the distance between the water and the bridge had changed, in what they called an “ancient tradition”.

If the City Bridge Foundation did not do this, it would be in violation of article 36.2 of the Port of London Thames Byelaws 2012.

Straw bale

According to the byelaw: “When the headroom of an arch or span of a bridge is reduced from its usual limits but that arch or span is not closed to navigation, the person in control of the bridge must suspend from the centre of that arch or span by day a bundle of straw large enough to be conspicuous and by night a white light.”

According to City of London Councillor for Bishopsgate, Benjamin Murphy, a layer of membrane needs to be replaced on the bridge, which “will also be cleaned up during the closure”.

The membrane separates the bridge’s steel structure from its aluminium bridge deck; and as a result of the work being done on it, the headroom under the bridge will be reduced.

Source: City Bridge Foundation via X

The bridge, which opened on June 10, 2000, was the the first new pedestrian bridge to be built across the Thames for over a century.

It is set to reopen on November 5 at the latest, resuming the link between the City of London at St Paul’s Cathedral with the Tate Modern Gallery at Bankside.