You won’t believe what London uses for their street bollards

August 3, 2023

It shocked us. 

It’s long been rumoured that the bollards scattered across South Bank in London are, in fact, old French cannons from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

And with it being covered in-depth by Historic UK and prolific historian, Alice Loxton, it’s turned into a certainty.

A real cannon bollard still standing strong on the South Bank, London.
Image credit: Historic UK

What is the Battle of Trafalgar?

During the Napoleonic War, the 21st of October in 1805 saw one of the most documented battles in British naval history.

The battle involved the British Royal Navy and the Spanish and French fleets.

An ambitious plan was conjured by Napoleon to conquer the entirety of Europe. He had tried to invade Britain a year prior to the battle but his efforts failed.

Napoleon then focused his efforts on Austria, which had recently declared war. Napoleon managed the impressive Franco-Spanish fleet, and the British wanted to stop them as they felt they posed a dominant threat to the seas.

To read more of this story, Royal Museums Greenwich covers it in great detail on their website.  

How and why the French cannons became bollards

Long story short, the British defeated the French in the infamous battle.

And when it came to stripping down the battle-worn French boats to identify anything of value, they obviously stumbled upon the cannons that were used against them only a few hours prior. 

They realised they were too big to be fitted onto the British fleet, but they didn’t want them to go to waste.

Instead, they brought them back to London and used them as street bollards to flaunt their victory over the French. 

What followed was a trendsetter, a true trailblazer that influenced the design of street bollards for years to come. Even now, bollards are designed based on the appearance of the cannon bollards that stood proudly on the South Bank in 1805 as they still do today.

Cannon-inspired street bollard in London
Image credit: Bollards of London

Why are we talking about this?

At Wybone, we’re passionate about street furniture. And while we manufacture our very own street bollards, we can never get enough of the rich history that surrounds the development of street furniture. 

It’s so inspiring to see where things begin and how they develop. And we’re always keen and striving to be a part of that history. That’s why we have a mixture of modern-looking bollards and even our own cannon-styled bollards.   

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