Photo By Peter Watts
London Bridge
 

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London Bridge - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT

London Bridge is always busy, it is one of the main arteries through modern London. This panorama shows the surrounding area, but as the bridge is so wide only the panoramic view towards Tower Bridge shows more than just the road. Not the prettiest panorama from London, but an important one historically as London Bridge has existed in one form of another for about 2000 years.

London Bridge - FURTHER INFORMATION

London Bridge - London visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'London Bridge' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Greater London.

London Bridge crosses the River Thames in London between Tower Bridge and Cannon Street Railway Bridge. It links the City of London on the north bank of the Thames with Southwark on the south and forms the west border of the Pool of London. To the left of Tower Bridge is the Tower of London, and to the right is the GLA City Hall, the More London development and Hays Galleria. Nearby on the Thames is HMS Belfast, a floating museum. In the foreground on the south bank are the buildings Price Water Cooper house, the world famous accounting and consultancy firm, and the Cotton Centre.

Just to the west of London Bridge on the south bank is Southwark Cathedral. The next road bridge upriver is Southwark Bridge. The Monument to the Fire of London stands on the north side of London Bridge, from the top of which you get a great panoramic view of the London skyline.

London Bridge is the oldest river crossing in London, the first one a wooden bridge built by the Romans in 60AD, nearly 2000 years ago. A stone bridge crossing was built between 1176 and 1209 (a 33 year building programme completed during the reign of King John. This stone bridge had houses built on it and a drawbridge on the south end. London Bridge at this time became a community in it's own right, lined with shops and houses overhanging the River Thames, whose upper floors often linked over the road forming a series of arches bordering on a tunnel. The shops had signs depicting the items for sale so the illiterate would be able to know what was there. The road below was very narrow, about 4m wide, and the signs were hung high up so carts could pass beneath. About the only thing not for sale on this fore-runner of the modern shopping mall was ale and beer, as the houses did not have cool cellars required for storage. The Southern Gateway became the place where the heads of some executed were displayed on pikes having been dipped in tar to preserve them. The first here was the head of William Wallace in 1305, and the practice continued until 1660 when King Charles II regained the throne. By this time Sir Thomas More (1535), Bishop John Fisher (1535) and Thomas Cromwell (1540) had all suffered the same fate, and a German tourist visiting London counted over 30 heads on London Bridge in 1598.

Being one of the prime entry points to London from Southwark, this unfortunate community sometimes came under attack from various armies. The houses on London Bridge were set alight during both the Wat Tyler's Peasants' Revolt in 1381 and Jack Cade's rebellion of 1450. Fire was not only caused by war, in 1212 fires broke out on both ends of London Bridge at the same time, trapping and killing up to 3000 people living there at the time. Another fire swept the bridge in 1633, destroying the northern end. This protected the rest of the bridge from the Great Fire of 1666.

By the 18C, after 600 years, the old London Bridge has run it's course. It was narrow, congested and was pulled down. The next bridge opened in 1831. This lasted much less time than the old bridge, and replaced by a new bridge which opened in 1973. The 18C bridge was brought by an American, dismantled and shipped to Lake Havasu City in Arizona where it was rebuilt and now is the second most popular tourist attraction in the area after the Grand Canyon.

TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE

Tube: London Bridge (Jubilee, Northern lines), Monument (Circle, District lines)
Train: London Bridge



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