Hammersmith Bridge has been shut indefinitely after safety checks by engineers revealed it to have “critical faults”.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council claim they had no choice but to shut the Grade II* listed bridge, first opened in 1887, due to the concerns.

It later blamed disruption to planned refurbishment works on government budget cuts as Transport for London (TfL) can no longer fund the project.

A statement read: “We’ve had to urgently close Hammersmith Bridge to motorists because of safety concerns. Our weekly safety checks have revealed critical faults and we have no choice but to shut the bridge.

“We’re sorry we couldn’t give more warning.

“But, due to government budget cuts, Transport for London (TfL) says it can no longer fund the planned refurbishment. This is a huge disappointment.

“Regrettably, we’ve now been left with no option but to close the bridge indefinitely until the refurbishment costs can be met. So we’re supporting TfL’s calls for the government to invest in this vital river crossing and national monument – so we can get on with the work and reopen the bridge.”

Richmond Council say pedestrians and cyclists can still use Hammersmith Bridge, however, it’s closed to vehicles and buses are currently on diversion.

Cllr Alex Ehmann, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “It's an open secret that the bridge has been in need of some pretty significant work.

“In a way news about the bridge not being in a good condition is unsurprising, but it was really disappointing to hear, at effectively 5.30pm yesterday evening [April 10], with no notice, that the bridge was being closed with immediate effect.

“I do think this makes a mockery of the Conservatives' approach in Richmond of suggesting that we, as a borough, should have taken control of the bridge.

“This bridge is clearly a multi-million pound liability and I think, frankly, it would've been a punishment to our residents to have asked them to bear the costs of this bridge repair.

“We'll be working with Hammersmith and Fulham to try and get it open as quickly as possible, and obviously deal with the closure as best we can, but it's going to inconvenience an awful lot of residents.”

A timeline of repairs to the bridge show analysis of survey results and draft designs have been proposed since last spring up until March last month.

The date for the start of Hammersmith Bridge’s full refurbishment has not yet been confirmed.

Richmond and Twickenham Times has contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for comment.