Waterloo Bridge, originally called Strand Bridge, was built between 1811 and 1817 to the designs of John Rennie. It was opened by the Prince Regent on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1817, and the present picture shows it only three years after completion. Despite strong protests it was finally pulled down in 1936 and replaced by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's new Waterloo Bridge.
To the left of the picture coal is loaded into a coal cart, a spectacle seen at many points along the river at this date. A watercolour by Théodore Géricault, painted the same year, depicts carters with a loaded coal cart and team of horses leaving the riverbank. Coal brought in ships from the north-east to the Thames was unloaded into lighters downstream from London Bridge and distributed at wharves further upstream in water too shallow to take the larger boats.