Farewell to north London’s Ferodo bridges


YOU hear stories, don’t you?, of completely lovestruck married couples who live together for 50 years and then in old age, when one passes away the other goes soon afterwards. It’s sort of like that for north London’s Ferodo bridges. Sort of.

Of course, it seemed silly to get sentimental about the loss of the scratchy old advertising that for so long was painted on the side of the Camden Road bridge in Camden Town last year. Why should a car brake pad firm get a free ad just because its long time presence on the bridge had created a comforting familiarity? But it did seem then, when it was replaced for a clinical indigo new look, that a tiny piece of urban history was swept away. It was painted over without much consultation about what should go in its place.

The blue Ferodo bridge of Camden Town gone (see before and after below), now the end is nigh for the red Ferodo bridge on the Cally Road. Plans to paint over it were confirmed last week. The term I used last time was ‘bohemian scruff’ but bohemian scruff, even if it is the right term, is hard to describe and certainly difficult to put a value on. Again, Alex Marsh’s old piece in the Guardian, ‘Why I Love Ferodo Bridges’ perhaps puts it in clearer terms when he describes the bridges as “timeless – advertisements that have been absorbed into the fabric of the cityscape and become landmarks in their own right”. ‘Save Ferodo’ is a hard argument to win, but once they’re gone…


Cally Road bridge pic: Allan Murray-Rust

3 Comments on Farewell to north London’s Ferodo bridges

  1. i found your blog after reading a story about an accident involving a Ferodo bridge in Ipswich:
    It is alarming to learn that the Ferodo name will soon have disappeared from two bridges in your area. I know there are plenty of others, but if other places start poncing up their bridges then we shall have none left. it is time for English Heritage, or Save Britain’s Heritage, or the Victorian Society, or a combination of such bodies, to get some of them listed.
    Shame on Camden and Islington for wanting this entirely mistaken gentrification.

  2. Hi Richard – stumbled across this, which led me back to that old Guardian piece that I’d completely forgotten. Thanks for your kind words about it. I’ve not been back to that part of London for years and years – I’m sorry that it’s gone. Genuine old advertising signs change hands for hundreds of pounds on Ebay – they painted over theirs.

    • Sadly, the Ferodo bridge over Norwich Road, Ipswich, has deteriorated over the last couple of years. You can still just about make out the letters but it is no longer the simple, proud FERODO that it was a few years ago. Pressure is needed on the Ferodo brake linings company, in Chapel-en-le-Frith, to resume paying for the right to have their name on those bridges. However, the company is now owned by Federal-Mogul of the USA. And it is possible that they may want to do away with the name. A lot of people got mesothelioma from the asbestos used in Ferodo brake linings until the health risks were identified and some other substance had to be used instead.
      When I worked as a van driver in Birmingham, 50 years ago, I passed under countless Ferodo bridges, all over Birmingham and the Black Country. I wonder if there are any left?

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