Hammersmith Bridge Sea Shanty Becomes Surprise Hit

Sung by estate agent who bought flat next to it two days before closure

Phil Coombes 'the Hammersmith Terrier' on the phone to the council Phil Coombes 'the Hammersmith Terrier' on the phone to the council

An estate agent who bought a flat near Hammersmith Bridge two days before it closed to pedestrians has produced a sea shanty-style song about the ongoing debacle.

Phil Coombes, who lives in Barnes, uploaded the tune to YouTube on 13 May, and was pleasantly surprised to see it hit over 500 views by the following morning.

“I’m not very musical and I’ve got a dreadful voice,” said Mr Coombes, before explaining that an old university friend helped him with the production while he penned the lyrics.

The 30-year-old, who uploaded the song under the alias ‘Hammersmith Terrier’, continued, “I had the idea to do this in late January and I was just driving to work and back in Hammersmith.

“I live just on the other side of the bridge and it’s so infuriating. It would have been a 10 minute walk to work and now it’s an hour’s drive.

“The whole thing just feels like a political football with everyone blaming each other.”

Mr Coombes said he had been living in Kew but bought a flat in Castelnau, the main road leading up to the bridge.

“We exchanged contracts on the property two days before the bridge closed to cyclists and pedestrians last year,” he said.

“My friends laughed at me, but it affected the value of my property and the whole thing has been really grim and dire.”

The 133-year-old crossing closed to vehicular traffic in April 2019 after a microfracture was found in one of its iron pedestals. During a mini heatwave in August 2020, the cracks widened and engineers advised Hammersmith and Fulham Council to also ban pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr Coombes said, “I’ve been following it [news about the bridge] closely and some of the proposals look great, but it’s just about getting that consensus.

“If all the decision makers could be locked in a room and not allowed to leave until they’ve hashed something out… sometimes it feels like the political desire hasn’t been there from all sides.”


The only detailed proposal for fixing the grade II*-listed crossing is the council’s collaboration with architects Foster + Partners and engineers COWI.

The council has said the plan would cost about £100 million using money the council would borrow and pay back over several decades by charging motorists a toll, which would need legal permission from the Transport Secretary.

The Labour council hopes this repairs scheme would take less than a year and a half.

However, the Department for Transport, TfL and the council have yet to agree how much each party should contribute to the upfront costs.

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

May 14, 2021