London Bridge

London Bridge

The oldest and infamous bridge in London.

Location: London Bridge, Southwark, London

Description: A bridge has existed at or near the present site for nearly 2000 years. The first bridge across the Thames in the London area was built by the Romans on the present site around 60 AD and was made of wood. The location was most likely chosen as a bridgeable spot which still had deepwater access to the sea. The bridge fell into disrepair after the Romans left, but at some point either it was repaired or a new timber replacement constructed, probably more than once.

In 1013, the bridge was burned down by King Aethelred in a bid to divide the invading forces of the Dane Svein Haraldsson. This episode might have inspired the well-known nursery rhyme London Bridge is Falling Down although the version of the song we know today refers to the many bridges that were destroyed and rebuilt, and the trading done on the shops over it (Silver and Gold) in the 14th century [2] so the song's origin is presumably of a much later date. The rebuilt London Bridge was destroyed by a storm in 1091 and yet again, this time by fire, in 1136.

The buildings on London Bridge created a major fire hazard and served to increase the load on its arches, so it is not surprising that there were several disasters on the bridge.

In 1212, perhaps the greatest of the early fires of London broke out on both ends of the bridge simultaneously, trapping many in the middle and reportedly resulting in 3,000 people being killed.

Another major fire broke out in 1633 with the northern third of the bridge being destroyed, although this prevented the bridge from being damaged by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

By 1722, congestion was becoming so serious that the Lord Mayor decreed that All carts, coaches and other carriages coming out of Southwark into this City do keep all along the west side of the said bridge: and all carts and coaches going out of the City do keep along the east side of the said bridge. This is possibly the origin of traffic in Britain driving on the left.

Finally, in 1758–62, the houses were removed along with the two centre arches, replaced with a single wider span to improve navigation on the river.

Holbein is said to have lived on the bridge. Swift and Pope used to visit an old bookseller named Crispin Tucker here. William Hogarth lived on the bridge when he was engraving for John Bowles of Cornhill, and left a glimpse of it in one of the plates Marriage a la Mode. Another painter who lived there was marine artist, Peter Monomy.

There was a haberdasher there called Baldwin who was ordered country air by his doctor, but he returned to London at once because he could not sleep away from the roar and creek of the water wheels under the bridge.

In the 1633 fire, the following shops were destroyed: 8 haberdashers, 6 hosiers, 1 shoemaker, 5 hatters, 3 silk mercers, 1 male milliner, 2 glovers, 2 mercers, 1 distiller of strong waters, 1 girdler, 1 linen-draper, 2 woolen-drapers, 1 salter, 2 grocers, 1 scrivener, 1 pin maker, 1 clerk and the curate of St Magnus the Martyr.

Tours: Libertines, Oasis, Alcohol.

Tours: The Bridges That Made London

Themes: RiverRiver Theme  ArchitectureArchitecture Theme  AncientAncient Theme
London Bridge

The oldest and infamous bridge in London.

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London Bridge

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