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London Bridge History

There has been a version of London Bridge since AD 50, the longest standing was the Medieval Bridge built in the reign of King John. At the end of the 18th Century a decision was made to build a new wider bridge and was opened 30 metres upstream in 1831. You can still see the pedestrian archway that was used by thousands of people to access the old Medieval Bridge at St Magnus the Martyr’s Church on Lower Thames Street where a model of the old bridge remains.

The new London Bridge stood for 130 years, survived the bombings of the war and it was in the early 1960’s that structural engineers discovered that the bridge was sinking very slowly into the Thames. The 1000 foot bridge needed to be replaced and the councillors at the time needed to plan how that would be done. Someone came up with the idea of seeing if anyone in USA wanted to buy the old bridge. It just so happened that an American Tycoon Robert McCulloch was looking for an unusual attraction for the theme park he was planning to build in Arizona. That is how the John Rennie Bridge ended up being rebuilt in Arizona.

The current London Bridge was built in the same location as the Rennie Bridge and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. With clever engineering the previous bridge remained in use when the new version was being built alongside it, clever traffic diversions were used to send traffic over the first two girders of the new bridge so that the old bridge could be demolished.