Haybales hung from London's Millenium Bridge to warn river traffic of repair work

Workers performing maintenance on London's Millenium Bridge had to do something important before they got started: fetch the haybales, required by traditional byelaws, to be dangled from the span to warn river traffic of the work.

"In accordance with ancient tradition (and the Port of London Thames Byelaws) a bundle of straw is dangled from Millennium Bridge to warn shipping of work under the bridge (we're not making this up, honest)," wrote the City Bridge Foundation on social media. "Robert, from our rope access contractor CAN Ltd, does the honours.

Added the Foundation: "We get our straw from a farm in Essex."

The bridge, of recent construction but among London's most heavily-used, will also be given a thorough cleaning.

The footbridge, which links St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London with the Tate Modern on the south bank of the Thames, will close from Saturday, 14 October.

It will allow for the replacement of the synthetic membrane which separates the bridge's steel structure from its aluminium bridge deck.

The bridge is one of five owned and maintained by 900-year-old charity City Bridge Foundation at no cost to the taxpayer.

To ensure it is completed as quickly as possible the work, being carried out by contractor FM Conway, will continue 24 hours a day, but will not generate a lot of noise, with power tools not used between 9pm and 8am.

An artist famed for painting miniatures over ground-in chewing gum on the bridge requested that they be removed rather than destroyed.

the foundation said "a limited" number of Wilson's artworks could be saved. The artist said he thought there were about 600 of his works on the bridge and that he would be upset if fewer than 100 survived.

Wilson, whose work on old chewing gum has featured across Europe, said he was devastated that years of work would be destroyed. "I've been working on this bridge since 2013, transforming rubbish into art. I'm quite literally taking what is thrown away and spat out and turning it into a piece of artwork," he said.

Discarded chewing gum seems a particularly impermanent medium. Maybe paint the hay?