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Ep 160: How to Buy London Bridge.

May we present to you: London Bridge! in all it's myriad of variations.

Or, to simplify:

"London Bridge" © Colin CC by SA 4.0*

This week Alex is takes a trip to America, following in the footsteps of the old London Bridge. And first things first, let's check we all know which bridge we mean. So, not Tower Bridge. The one above, the one with the towers, built near the Tower of London, which is why it's called Tower Bridge. But, as we discover, every bridge in London (and beyond) can be called London Bridge on the internet.

Which is ironic, because there's plenty of London Bridges to chose from. All of the bridges in the top picture are versions of London Bridge. Let's take a closer look.

Shall we go chronological today? shall we? Here we go, seatbelts on for a rollercoaster ride through the London Bridges. Loads of pictures for today, so not many words. And slightly tangential to the main pod topic. Listen in to find out what we talked about most.

Roman London's Bridge as imagined* by the Museum of London

The Romans built the first bridge just downstream from where our current one stands. The furthest downriver that they could build a bridge, and then the town of London grew around it. But it disappeared during the Saxon era. And was rebuilt, as a wooden bridge:

London Bridge as it might have been around 1012

This photograph*, taken in 1012 shows the moment that Olaf attacked the Bridge, possibly the first record of it falling down.

London Bridge in 1616 R Martin and Claus Jansz Visscher

Then it was rebuilt in stone, with a chapel, houses, a drawbridge, and famously - heads on spikes, becoming one of the marvels of Europe. This picture is looking North, so it's Southwark Cathedral in the foreground, and you can see the heads above the arch at this end of the bridge.

But there were some fires:

London Bridge in 1632 by Claude De Jongh Yale Centre for British Art ID 1669682

By 1632 it's looking like a gap toothed grin. This time we're looking East. See the exaggerated turrets of the Tower of London in the background on the far left. After the big fire, you the Great Fire, in 1666, the remains of the houses were demolished,

London Bridge 1795 Joseph Constantine Stadler

But the bridge limped on. Looking North this time the Monument and St Magnus the Martyr are to the left.. Wherein you can find:

David Aggett's model of London Bridge in St Magnus the Martyr - Photo by, friend of the pod, Katie Wignall, Look up London

Then they built a new bridge. Opened in 1831:

The Opening of New London Bridge 1st Aug 1831 Clarkson Stanfield Royal Collection Trust

Looking North and East. What an occasion! The Monument and Magnus again to the left. But look under the bridge towards the right......what's that? that other bridge?

The Demolition of Old London Bridge, 1832, Guildhall Gallery London CC By SA 4.0

Well this is the demolition of the old bridge, in 1832. The year after the new one opened. Clearly showing the relationship between them, and the shift upstream by about 30ft. The Monument and what's it called again, that church?

Old London Bridge - uncertain date

Looking North with Fishmonger's Hall on the left. The hall was rebuilt around the same time as the bridge. the arches at the bottom sort of match, with the same toothy dentures on the underside of the cornice. Have a look when you pass by, one bit of the bridge survives alongside the hall, so you can still compare them.

London Bridge in stereoscope

Such a lovely bridge they printed it twice. Designed to be seen through a Stereoscope to get a 3d effect.

While we're talking about two images side by side, I'm just going to leave this here:

Beef and Lobster. Giant Lobster Filey North Yorkshire Humphrey Bolton CC by SA 2.0

If you've listened, you'll know.

And this is the bridge that Alex is mostly talking about. The one that was bought and shipped to America:

Being labelled and dismantled 1968 - ScouserDave via Reddit

(looking south, that's Southwark Cathedral again, last seen in the 1600s image)

Dismantled and carefully labelled, then rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, across a specially constructed waterway. It now looks like this:

New London Bridge © Meinzahn/ via Encyclopædia Britannica

Or this:

Old/New? London Bridge and Lake Havasu beyond

How do you unveil a bridge?

Opening Ceremony and unveiling the plaque

With a hot air balloon of course!

Plaque that was unveiled, Image by Marine 69-71 CC by SA 4.0

And, just for good measure:

If you know, you know.

What else came with the bridge? Well, according to this film, starring David Hasselhoff, the spirit of Jack the Ripper came too, and created "Terror at London Bridge". So that's two weeks running "Jack" made it into the pod or blog. Hmmm.  David Hasselhoff film. watch it if you dare!

But some stuff was left behind:

John Keats statue at Guys Hospital

Here's the alcove from the old bridge that sits in courtyard of Guys Hospital. One of 4 remnants of the original 14. Peer closely at the 1795 picture, I think you can just about see them.

And the bridge we have now? The 1970s version. Alex was not super flattering , and, if you're looking for the Medieval bridge with the houses, I can see this would disappoint, but I have a soft spot for it:

Yes it's concrete, but it's crisp and elegant, simple. I took this photo before it got it's new lighting scheme. It's now part of the Iluminated River Project - which may be a topic for another day..... And I'll tell you a secret - It has underfloor heating......oooh!

*It's not London Bridge

*In a scholarly way

*It's not a photograph

You know where to find us:

Get in touch for anything and everything.

And finally the first, and possibly last, in a series I'm calling: Fiona's Weekly Pep Talk.

If in doubt, cross that bridge (but don't burn it down behind you).

27 views2 comments


Wease Bollman
Wease Bollman
Feb 23


Just so you know.

Rahel Meyer
Rahel Meyer
May 02
Replying to

Same! Greetings from Switzerland! :)

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