Monday, September 13, 2010

Lake Havasu City, Arizona - London Bridge

London Bridge is a bridge that was first built across the Thames River in England nearly 2000 years ago.

The first bridge that was built was built about 50 AD by the Romans and was probably a pontoon bridge.  Over the years a number of bridges have been built and destroyed on the site where London Bridge stands.

I remember as a kid playing London Bridges Falling Down when I was in grade school.  That game is said to come from a poem that was written by an English poet after a Norwegian Prince destroyed the bridge in 1031 AD.

Time and again London Bridge was destroyed and rebuilt and sometimes the structure was altered.  At one point in time they even let people build shops and houses on the bridge along side the roadway.  The bridge authorities rented the space for them to build on with the intent of generating revenue to pay for the upkeep of the bridge.

The shops and houses were allowed to jut out into the roadway by 7 feet on each side and then overhang the water by 7 feet the other direction.  Some were built as high as 7 stories.  That meant that 7 feet of the roadway was taken up on each side of the bridge or 14 feet.  Out of the 26 foot roadway that left only 12 feet for travel, 6 feet in each direction.

During that time it was not unusual to take over an hour just to cross the bridge.  Many times people would take the ferries that ran at the side of the bridge so they could get across faster.

Another period of time saw pikes placed on the South Gate of the bridge and heads of individuals who had been executed were placed on the pikes and displayed.  William Wallace of Braveheart fame was the first of those displayed and that display grew to 30 heads displayed.

As time passed the bridge kept changing and adapting to try to handle the traffic flowing across it until in about 1970 it was decided that the bridge needed to be replaced.  The old one was no longer able to accommodate the volume and crush of traffic and so the Common Council of London placed the old bridge on the market and started looking for buyers.

That is when an American entrepreneur, Robert P McCullough, stepped in and bought the bridge for 2.5 million dollars.  

The bridge was then dismantled and each of the stones were numbered so they could be reassembled and then shipped to Arizona in the U.S.A.  The bridge was then reassembled over a strong concrete base and now stands there for all to see.

London has a new bridge in the place where London Bridge stood for nearly 2000 years but the older London Bridge that participated in so much English History including the German Blitzkrieg over London in World War II now stands in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

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