Poet sought to celebrate London’s bridges in verse

The hunt is on for a budding bard with a bent for bridges – to immortalise in verse some of London’s most famous Thames crossings.

City Bridge Foundation's poet-in-residence, in partnership with The Poetry Society
  • Published: 21 March 2024

City Bridge Foundation, which maintains five bridges leading into the City of London at no cost to the taxpayer, is recruiting its first ever poet-in-residence.

The successful applicant for the unique role will be expected to regularly visit Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars bridges to draw inspiration for their work.

They will also celebrate in verse the 900-year-old charity’s role as London’s biggest independent charity funder, awarding over £30 million a year to projects across the capital.

The poet-in-residence scheme, launched on World Poetry Day, sees the foundation team up with The Poetry Society – the leading voice for UK poetry at home and abroad.

Image of a man standing on Tower Bridge

Giles Shilson, City Bridge Foundation chairman, said:

For hundreds of years, our bridges have been central to the story of London during its happiest and its darkest moments, yet tributes to them in verse are surprisingly scarce.

Our new poet will celebrate the bridges’ long history, their relationship with the city and the river and the vital role they play in the day-to-day life of modern Londoners.

The job is, as far as we know, the only one of its kind anywhere and is a way of celebrating our bridges and our funding work, while supporting and promoting poetry as a modern, vibrant, culturally relevant art form.”

The role is open to published poets of any style who either live in London or are able to regularly travel to the capital to frequent the five bridges and visit some of the charities funded by City Bridge Foundation.

The Poetry Society, which is the UK’s national organisation for poetry, will support the foundation in advertising for, selecting and managing the poet in residence.

Image of a woman sitting on Tower Bridge writing

It is expert at working with poets at all stages of their careers, whether publishing new writing by top names in its influential magazine The Poetry Review, organising residency schemes and new commissions, or encouraging new generations of young poets in schools or through talent development schemes.

Judith Palmer, Poetry Society Director, said:

We’re delighted to be working with City Bridge Foundation to create this fantastic opportunity for a poet-in-residence at London’s iconic bridges.

Poets have a unique ability to distil the essence of what makes a place special and to guide us to pay attention to familiar places in new ways. For centuries, the bridges of London have captured the public imagination, inspiring some of our most beloved songs and works of literature.

This is a tremendous opportunity to bring their history and current character to life through poetry. The poet will work with communities around the bridges to capture in poetry what the landmarks mean to them, as they build up an exciting contemporary picture of the city’s bridges.”

More information about the role and details of how to apply can be found at or

City bridges in literature

An engraving of the old London Bridge in 1616

- London Bridge is Falling Down, one of the world’s most famous nursery rhymes, deals with the dilapidation of the original mediaeval stone bridge. The fund set up 900 years ago from tolls, rents, bequests and other income is still used by City Bridge Foundation today to maintain its bridges, ensuring the nursery rhyme won’t come true or, if the worst did happen, the bridge could be replaced at no cost to the public purse.

- The Victorian London Bridge opened in 1831 appears in TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, regarded as one of the most important English language poems of the 20th century, in which Eliot compares City commuters crossing the bridge to the condemned souls in Dante’s Inferno – a feeling many long-time commuters heading into the office on a Monday morning will be able to relate to.

Picture of a man standing on Southwark Bridge

- American hip-hop artist Fergie topped the Billboard Hot 100 with a track called London Bridge. In a schoolboy error made by many tourists, the music video featured nearby Tower Bridge, which has led to the modern phenomenon of oblivious TikTokers twerking to the 2006 hit on the wrong bridge. The fools.

- Tower Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge feature in Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel Neverwhere, set in the magical underground realm of London Below’. Tower Bridge actually does have a spooky subterranean space – its famous bascule chambers, where the bottom end of the bridge’s see-saw mechanism descends when the bridge is raised to let shipping go past.

- The Iron Bridge’ – the forerunner to the present Southwark Bridge – is a haunt of the titular character in Charles Dickens’s famous novel Little Dorrit, and is also mentioned in the opening line of Our Mutual Friend. Dickens knew the bridge well from growing up in the nearby Marshalsea Prison, where his father was an inmate.