Although he was born in London, Turner made few finished watercolours of the city or its buildings. However, as a boy he was fascinated with the various industries along the banks of the Thames, and he often sailed past Old London Bridge in his boat.
In this work, the low viewpoint suggests that Turner painted the bridge from the shore. He has lightly sketched in a carriage with coachman and passengers travelling over the bridge, though he seems to have been most interested in its architectural features: gothic arches and tracery. Southwark Bridge can be seen in the distance.