Bridging London 2020 - 2045
Foreword to Bridge House Estates new 25-year strategy, Bridging London
On behalf of Bridge House Estates (BHE), we are delighted to share the charity’s new 25-year strategy, Bridging London.
This strategy represents an exciting time in BHE’s long history, providing a framework for all of the charity’s activities and outlining the collective impact it seeks to have, firstly through its maintenance and support of five of London’s most iconic Thames bridges (Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Millennium Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge) and also through its further charitable funding and activities, aimed at tackling inequality and disadvantage across Greater London.
For more than 900 years, BHE’s role and value in supporting London’s physical and community infrastructure has remained integral to London – even as the City of London and Greater London have been transformed. The charity’s bridges are significant and iconic landmarks and while they may just be bridges to some, they are also an integral part of the capital’s communities and culture. They are symbols of London’s history and beacons for its future.
Beyond the charity’s primary purpose to maintain and support the bridges, in the last 26-years BHE has also supported Londoners experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation, helping them to thrive through the distribution of over £400m of charitable funding, delivered in the name of City Bridge Trust (the charity’s funding arm).
For the benefit of London
BHE has always existed, and continues to exist, for the benefit of London. The Charity is anchored by the needs of London’s communities – whom it inclusively defines as anyone that is in the capital at any given moment in time, whether living, working or visiting here.
When we first published the Bridging London Strategy in 2020, we committed to keeping the Strategy under review to ensure it always remained relevant and reflective of the changing environment. The past year has presented challenges and opportunities for the charity, with the Covid-19 pandemic having an unprecedented impact on the charity sector, the UK and the world, shining a greater spotlight on the values of community resilience and connectivity. BHE’s role in bridging London was perhaps therefore more important than ever.
BHE adapted to be more resilient and adaptable over the past year, working in even greater collaboration with others. This was particularly highlighted through the charity’s involvement in the London Community Response, where funders rapidly came together to provide coordinated funding for the groups and organisations supporting communities affected by the pandemic.
Covid-19 also presented challenges for our bridges, for example Tower Bridge was forced to close as a visitor attraction, resulting in a significant downturn in visitors. Although income was severely impacted, Tower Bridge’s potential was maximised by effectively engaging with a ‘hyper-local’ and London-wide audience. Tower Bridge also adapted its visitor attraction strategy to remain ‘digitally open’ despite being physically closed. Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we remain committed to our vision, aims and objectives as set out in the Strategy.
We will continue to use this Strategy to better communicate our story and increase the awareness and understanding of our vision and impact. We hope that this strategy, and our commitment to making it a reality over the next 25 years, will inspire others to join us in striving to achieve the charity’s vision, where every person in London becomes truly connected.
Dr Giles Shilson, Chair of the Bridge House Estates Board
Dhruv Patel, OBE, Deputy Chair of the Bridge House Estates Board