A new London Bridge has been build at a cost of 5,000,000 pounds (12 million dollars) -- and the cost was met entirely from funds accrued mainly in the Middle Ages.
A new London Bridge has been build at a cost of 5,000,000 pounds (12 million dollars) -- and the cost was met entirely from funds accrued mainly in the Middle Ages. A bridge has stood on the site for 2,000 years.
The first bridge was demolished by Danish pirates in 1014, giving rise to a nursery song, "London Bridge is falling down", still sung by British children. It was replaced by a stone bridge which had houses built on it. This bridge became a great Medieval tourist attraction as it was used to display the severed heads of traitors. It was also decorated with trophies from famous British battle victories, including Agincourt in 1415 and the abortive Spanish Armada invasion in 1588.
The bridge also became the scene of some of history's first recorded traffic jams. In April 1749 traffic was jammed solid for three hours after a firework display with musical accompaniment provided by the composer Handel. The bridge was replaced in 1831 by one designed by an unknown architect called John Rennie, who later became renowned as one of the world's great bridge-builders. Cracks were discovered in this bridge in the 1920's and the weight of modern traffic was found to be "sinking" it.
The City of London -- that is, the one-square mule of the historic City, which still remains independent from the rest of London -- decided to build a new bridge in 1967. The existing bridge was put up for sale, and was bought by a United States consortium which had it shipped stone by stone to be rebuilt in the Arizona desert. It is now the centre of a flourishing tourist resort. Old London buses run where once there was only sand, an artificial river was made to flow under the bridge, a reproduction London "pub" (bar) was installed and sight-seers can even buy souvenirs made out of unwanted bits of the old bridge.
The new bridge across the Thames is being opened by Queen Elizabeth on Friday (16 March). It carries three lanes of traffic, has full under-surface heating to prevent ice forming, and incorporates three squash courts, a bar and a museum in the structure.