London’s Great Bridges: CAN helps to launch Illuminated River

August 02, 2019

CAN, the RSK UK geotechnical and engineering contractor that undertakes large-scale, specialist access projects, has appeared on the Channel 4 television show London’s Great Bridges: Lighting the Thames.

The three-part documentary offers a fascinating look behind-the-scenes of the ambitious project set to light up London’s bridges. The Illuminated River will bring to life up to 15 of London’s historic bridges with more than 100,000 lights, transforming a five-mile stretch of the river Thames each night until 2am.

CAN is working on the project for principal contractor FM Conway. The company was brought on board to assist the FM Conway team with ensuring that the lights were secured safely by accessing the challenging under-bridge locations.

In episode one, which aired on 6 July, architectural designer and television presenter Charlie Luxton joined the CAN team under Lambeth Bridge. Sporting a CAN-branded hard hat, Charlie descended below the bridge via rope access to help the team to fit the first lights. This is just the first stage of a meticulously planned schedule that won’t be completed until 2022.

The second episode aired on 13 July, saw Charlie once again descend with the CAN team, this time off London Bridge. CAN senior abseiler Bob Smith demonstrates the bespoke trolley system suspended from the underside of the bridge that will allow the team to install a tray for the cabling and eventually all the lights themselves. The episode also sees Charlie join CAN’s night shift to fit lights under Southwark Bridge. Joining CAN site supervisor Lee Townsend and Anya Svet, Charlie asks Anya about her job. “I’ve been working for CAN for the last ten months,” she tells him. “And do you enjoy it?” Charlie enquires. “Yes, I love it!” she replies.

At the end of the third and final episode, the first four bridges were switched on in a big reveal. London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium bridges are all individually stunning and together create a breath-taking view down the Thames. Stage two of the project will see the next five bridges lighted by September 2020.

You can now catch up on the whole series via All 4. CAN features primarily at 28:20 in episode one and at 3:35 and 32:22 in episode two.