Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

London Bridge (London)

London Bridge is probably one of the most famous bridges in the world. It crosses the River Thames from the City of London to Southwark.

The first bridge was built in the first century AD by the Romans, who founded London on discovering that this was the lowest easy crossing of the river.

In 1014, Ethelred the Unready and St. Olaf of Norway sailed up the Thames and won back London from the occupying Danish forces by using ropes to pull the wooden bridge down. This was the origin of the well known children's song "London Bridge is Falling Down".

The mediaeval stone bridge was built by Peter, a priest at St. Mary Cole Church, and opened in 1209. It had nine arches, to prevent unwelcome ships sailing further up the Thames. On this bridge were built houses, shops and chapels, while traitors' heads were from time to time displayed on iron spikes. Among the heads displayed were those of William Wallace and Sir Thomas More.

In 1749, the buildings were removed and the bridge modernised. This was about the time that Westminster Bridge, the second in London, was built.

John Rennie built the London Bridge which is still remembered by many Londoners, completing it in 1831. This bridge was sold to American businessmen, and it is now in an amusement park at Lake Havasu City in Arizona.

Today's bridge, designed by Harold Knox-King, is a little to the West, and was opened in 1973.

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