London Bridge has by no means fallen, but it surely retains on rebuilding

Crossing the River Thames between the Metropolis of London and Southwark, London Bridge has welcomed vacationers in a single type or one other for over two millennia. But, regardless of its longevity and fame – it even has its personal nursery rhyme – what individuals consider as London Bridge is commonly not London Bridge.

In truth, do a Google seek for “photos of London Bridge” and what you will see as an alternative are photos of Tower Bridge, the well-known Victorian Gothic construction with two towers. However immediately’s London Bridge gives a a lot less complicated profile, and whereas the present construction dates from the late twentieth century, the story of the bridges standing on that web site is for much longer.

Historical past of London Bridge

“Historical past is much more attention-grabbing than Tower Bridge, which most individuals assume is London Bridge,” says David Inexperienced, principal at world design agency Perkins & Will. Transport and bridges of their improvement.

Right this moment, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and three others are managed by Bridge Home Estates, which was established over 900 years in the past. It’s a charitable belief, and the cash wanted for the bridge upkeep finances goes to serving to Londoners in want by the Metropolis Bridge Belief, a funding arm. The Metropolis Bridge Belief thus donates £30 million yearly.

In keeping with the Metropolis of London, the primary bridge over the Thames was constructed between 1176 and 1209. It was changed within the early Nineteenth century and for the third time when the present bridge was constructed. Nevertheless, earlier than the Twelfth-century stone bridge, a sequence of wood bridges had been constructed on the positioning, and the story of London Bridge begins with the Roman invasion and institution of the settlement of Londinium.

What’s now referred to as London Bridge started as a army pontoon bridge constructed by the Romans once they settled the world, in accordance with Greene. For the previous 2,000 years, the standing of the bridge has remained a nexus for financial improvement, though its bodily building has modified a number of instances.

The timber bridges on the web site had been broken by a number of fires and a twister. A ultimate wood bridge designed by Peter of Colchurch (aka Peter the Bridge Grasp, clergyman of St Mary Colchurch) was accomplished in 1163 AD, with Henry II erecting the primary stone construction designed by Peter on the web site about 800 years earlier. was turned on. Barely to the west of the wood bridge’s location, it was a easy masonry arched bridge, just like the Pont Neuf in Paris, and included a drawbridge.

This “Outdated London Bridge” was used each as a river crossing and as a improvement web site such because the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. For half a century the stone bridge was residence to a number of buildings, together with residences, retailers and a chapel devoted to St Thomas of Canterbury. In truth, in accordance with Inexperienced, there have been about 200 buildings on the bridge.

With a lot improvement, the bridge narrowed – to not point out toilet services dropped instantly into the Thames – so town started eradicating buildings within the 18th century.

London Bridge

London Bridge No. 2

As London Bridge remained a serious transport route even with out its buildings, structural issues emerged. The arches had been broken and the bridge, which had skilled a number of damages, was additionally slowly sinking. By the 1820s, it was thought-about structurally problematic, Inexperienced explains.

Thus, a brand new bridge was proposed and accomplished in 1831. A masonry stone construction that was sturdy and extremely engineered, it was proposed by Scottish civil engineer John Rennie and constructed by his sons. Situated upstream from a Twelfth-century bridge that was rapidly demolished, it lasted simply 140 years.

By the Twenties, town knew that renovation or reconstruction can be crucial, however the second bridge remained in place till the late Nineteen Sixties when it was lastly changed.

Apparently, the Nineteenth-century London Bridge was bought to Robert P. McCulloch, Sr., a series noticed magnate who based Lake Havasu Metropolis, Arizona. He purchased the bridge in 1968 for $2.4 million and shipped it with transport prices of about $240,000 to his new residence, the place it was constructed over a man-made channel. Right this moment, it’s the second most visited vacationer attraction within the state.

London Bridge

London Bridge Right this moment

The London Bridge as we all know it immediately was designed by metropolis engineer Harold Knox King with architects Mott, Hay & Anderson and William Holford & Companions. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1973. The bridge has three spans set on concrete pillars and is fabricated from concrete and polished granite, which isn’t as thrilling because it sounds.

“It is a actually outstanding piece of engineering, but it surely’s became this superb public area,” Greene says. The construction is just like most overpasses in American freeway building, and it’s usually nowhere close to the place vacationers go for its magnificence, particularly given the historic structure all through London. Nevertheless, London Bridge supplies a superb location from which to {photograph} the close by Tower Bridge.

Till the opening of Westminster Bridge in 1750, London Bridge provided town’s solely possibility for crossing the Thames. Right this moment, it connects two vibrant neighborhoods. To the north is the Metropolis of London, which, like Wall Road, is the monetary sector, says Catherine Mahoney, head of communications for charity and philanthropy on the Metropolis Bridge Belief. To the south is Southwark, with Borough Market, The Shard and the London Dungeon.

Even with its present essential place in fashionable London, the bridge stays a web site of custom, similar to the fitting to make use of it within the Twelfth century to drive sheep on the market to the Metropolis of London. In 2013, 20 Suffolk and Texel sheep crossed the bridge in a reenactment of the historic constitution as a part of a fundraising effort. “It is a very nice, attention-grabbing bridge with a wealthy, attention-grabbing historical past,” Greene says.

Is London Bridge collapsing?

So technically, London Bridge has fallen considerably – a number of instances throughout its 2,000-year historical past.

“The bridge piers are responsible for injury brought on by transport and by river flows,” stated Roger Hobbs, emeritus professor in Imperial School London’s Division of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in an e mail. “This ended the lifetime of medieval bridges and possibly earlier bridges. In addition they require upkeep earlier than issues turn into critical/harmful.”

So, the place did the nursery rhyme all of us sing originate from? It was first printed within the mid-Nineteenth century, but it surely was most likely identified a lot sooner than that. There are some prevailing theories concerning the track, together with an Eleventh-century Viking assault, the 1666 Nice London Fireplace, the unrelenting imprecision of a person within the basis of the construction, and the continued problem of the bridge needing restore.

This leaves the query of a “honest girl” talked about within the kitty, however there has additionally been no consensus. One chance is that of Eleanor of Provence, who was the spouse of Henry III and managed the revenues of London Bridge within the late thirteenth century. One other speculation is that the white girl is Matilda of Scotland, a spouse of Henry I, who commissioned the bridge tasks greater than a century in the past. It has additionally been prompt that it could be a member of the Leh household, who declare that considered one of their kin was buried below the bridge. But it surely’s actually anybody’s guess.

Initially printed: June 25, 2020

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