London Bridge

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Coordinates: 51°30′29″N 0°05′16″W / 51.50806°N 0.08778°W / 51.50806; -0.08778

London Bridge
The current London Bridge at dusk
Carries 5 lanes of the A3 road
Crosses River Thames
Locale Inner London
Maintained by City of London Corporation
Design prestressed concrete box girder bridge
Total length 262 m (860 ft)
Width 32 m (107 ft)
Longest span 104 m (340 ft)
Clearance below 8.9 m (29 ft)
Opened 17 March 1973
Coordinates 51°30′29″N 0°05′16″W / 51.50806°N 0.08778°W / 51.50806; -0.08778

London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames. It is in central London, and connects the City of London with Southwark. It is between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge.

On the south side of the bridge are Southwark Cathedral and London Bridge station. On the north side are the Monument to the Great Fire of London and Monument tube station.

It was the only bridge over the Thames downstream from Kingston until Putney Bridge opened in 1729. The current bridge opened on 17 March 1973 and is the latest in a succession of bridges to occupy the spot and claim the name.[1]

The bridge carries part of the A3 road, which is maintained by the Greater London Authority;[2] the bridge itself is owned and maintained by a charity overseen by the City of London Corporation.[3]

The name London Bridge is often mistakenly applied to Tower Bridge, which is the next bridge downstream.

History[change | change source]

Roman bridge[change | change source]

A bridge has existed at or near the present site over the period from the Roman occupation of the area, nearly 2,000 years ago. The first bridge across the Thames in the London area, probably a military pontoon bridge, was built of wood by the Romans on the present site around 50 AD.

Around 59 AD, a piled bridge was constructed, and the local Britons built a small trading settlement next to it—the town of Londinium. The settlement and the bridge were destroyed in a revolt led by Queen Boudicca in 60 AD. The victory was short-lived, and soon afterwards the Romans defeated the rebels and set about building a new walled town. Some of the 2nd-century Roman wall has survived to this day. The new town and bridge were built around the position of the present bridge, providing access to the south-coast ports via Stane Street (the A3 route) and Watling Street (the A2).

Medieval bridge[change | change source]

Engraving by Claes Van Visscher, 1616. Shows Old London Bridge, with Southwark Cathedral in the foreground. The spiked heads of executed traitors and criminals are above the Southwark gatehouse.

The southern gatehouse, the Stone Gateway, became the scene of one of London's most notorious sights: a display of the severed heads of traitors, stuck on pikes[1] and dipped in tar to preserve them. The head of William Wallace was the first to appear on the gate, in 1305,[4] starting a tradition that was to continue for another 355 years. Other famous heads on pikes included those of Jack Cade in 1450, Thomas More in 1535, Bishop John Fisher in the same year, and Thomas Cromwell in 1540. In 1598 a German visitor to London counted over 30 heads on the bridge:[5]

"On the south is a bridge of stone eight hundred feet in length, of wonderful work; it is supported upon twenty piers of square stone, sixty feet high and thirty broad, joined by arches of about twenty feet diameter. The whole is covered on each side with houses so disposed as to have the appearance of a continued street, not at all of a bridge.
Upon this is built a tower, on whose top the heads of such as have been executed for high treason are placed on iron spikes: we counted above thirty".

The practice was finally stopped in 1660.

The mediaeval bridge itself was demolished in 1831.

Modern bridge[change | change source]

Until 1750 when Westminster Bridge was built, London bridge was the only structure crossing the River Thames.[6]

The medieval bridge was replaced in the 19th century. This bridge was sold in 1968,[7]

In 1968, the current bridge was built.

In June 2012, the bridge was highlighted on the route of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames.[8]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett.
  2. "Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 1117 - The GLA Roads Designation Order 2000". Government of the United Kingdom. http://www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2000/20001117.htm. Retrieved 30 March 2007.
  3. "About us". TeamLondonBridge. http://www.teamlondonbridge.co.uk/default.aspx?m=3&mi=173&ms=0. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  4. "The Trial Of William Wallace". Angelfire.com. http://www.angelfire.com/nh/Scotland/wmwallace.html. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  5. Travels in England by Paul Hentzner
  6. Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, Key facts; retrieved 2012-6-3.
  7. London Bridge was sold and re-assembled at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, across the Bridgewater Channel canal.
  8. Londontown.com, "Thames Jubilee Pageant,"; retrieved 2012-6-4.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to London Bridge at Wikimedia Commons