|Location Map ( geo)|
|The bridge as seen from a river boat|
|Surrey • Middlesex|
|Transport for London|
| 50 (1st Bridge)|
55 (2nd Bridge)
80 (3rd Bridge)
1016 (4th Bridge)
1163 (6th Bridge)
1209 (7th Bridge)
1831 (8th Bridge)
1973 (9th bridge)
|Crossings related to the A3|
Portsbridge Roundabout • Portsmouth - Santander ferry • Portsmouth - Cherbourg ferry • Portsmouth - Caen ferry • Portsmouth - Fishbourne ferry • Hindhead Tunnel • A3 (Cobham) Bridge • A3 Guildford Thro Route Bridge • Portsmouth - Le Havre ferry • Portsmouth - Bilbao ferry • Town Bridge (Godalming) • Eashing Bridge • Pilgrim's Bridge
London Bridge is the oldest recorded crossing in Britain, first being built in the year 50. The first bridge was a temporary military design before the second permanent bridge. It was a Roman design and was on Watling Street. After the revolt of 60, the third bridge was built. It was abandoned circa 410 when the Romans left the Provence of Britannia.
It was about 600 years before the next bridge was built. This one was built in 1016 after an attack by King Olaf. It was this attack that the song London Bridge is Falling Down was based on. One other bridge was swept way in a storm in 1091.
However, the longest lived London Bridge was built in 1209. This incarnation of the Bridge had houses and chapels on it. It was during the 13th Century that the current version of the London Bridge is Falling Down song was written. It was in a poor state of repair. In 1281, major damage to the bridge occurred and had to be repaired. In the next few centuries, London Bridge became a popular spot where traitors to England had their head put on a spike. Scotland's William Wallace suffered this fate in 1305. In 1450, Jack Cade held the bridge and the bridge suffered massage damage. Houses were burned down. However, Jack Cade got the same fate as Wallace, his head was put onto a spike. The next major upgrade was when waterwheels were installed. By 1583, they were providing food and water for the City of London.
33 years before the Great Fire of London, London Bridge was burnt into the ground. It caused major damage and the houses were rebuilt. Some of the newer ones at the north end were burnt in the 1666 Great Fire of London but London Bridge escaped major damage. In 1722, the way that Britain drives on the left was established when a order for the direction of traffic on the bridge was enforced. In 1763, all the houses were pulled down and the bridge widened. This was a major engineering project and it weakened the bridge.
By 1800, the bridge was pushing towards 600 years old and in 1821, a competition between famous engineers like Thomas Telford and Ralph Dodd took place. The winner was John Rennie and in 1824 work commenced on the new incarnation of the bridge. Traffic switched to the new bridge in 1831 and the old bridge demolished. Five years later, the London & Greenwich railway opened London Bridge Railway Station and it became a very busy bridge for passengers going into the city. Grand steps were also built and these are still in use today for TfL riverboat services. In 1902, the bridge had widening works which were finished in 1904.
However this bridge was slowing sinking due to the soft clay that London is built on. It was also assigned the number A3 at classification and with the rise in traffic, made the sinking worse. In 1968, plans were announced for a new bridge. Robert McCulloch, an American from Arizona decided to bid on the Rennie Bridge. His winning bid of $2,460,000 (£1,622,370) was accepted and begin a urban legend that he thought he was buying the more famous Tower Bridge. He knew he was buying London Bridge and the Rennie bridge was replaced by the modern concrete bridge, built by John Mowlem & Co. The old Rennie Bridge now resides at Lake Havasu City. The modern Bridge is a D3 bridge though one of the lanes is a bus lane and it has a speed limit of 30 mph. In the mid 2000s, the bridge was made more interesting by shining red light on it. This was first done during the remembrance services and the red light was made permanent. What does the future hold for London Bridge? If its history is anything to go by, there are many more stories to tell.
- Offical Website of the London Bridge Museum
- How the old Rennie London Bridge was sold to the States
- Where the old London Bridge now resides
- Lyrics for London Bridge is falling down
- You Tube video of London Bridge is falling down
- British Libary Arcives of London Bridge
- Where you can stay near to the famed bridge
- BBC News: The Bridge that Crossed an Ocean
This page was a candidate for Article of the Month June 2009