London Bridge facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsLondon Bridge
The current London Bridge at dusk
|Carries||5 lanes of A3 road|
|Maintained by||City of London Corporation|
|Design||prestressed concrete box girder bridge|
|Total length||262 m (860 ft)|
|Width||32 m (107 ft)|
|Longest span||104 m (340 ft)|
|Clearance below||8.9 m (29 ft)|
|Opened||17 March 1973|
It was previously the only bridge over the Thames downstream from Kingston until Putney Bridge opened in 1729. The current bridge opened on 17th March 1973 and is the latest in a succession of bridges to occupy the spot and claim the name.
The name London Bridge is often mistakenly applied to Tower Bridge, which is the next bridge downstream.
A bridge has existed at or near the present site over the period from the Roman occupation of the area, nearly 2,000 years ago. The first bridge across the Thames in the London area, probably a military pontoon bridge, was built of wood by the Romans on the present site around 50 AD.
Around 59 AD, a piled bridge was constructed, and the local Britons built a small trading settlement next to it—the town of Londinium. The settlement and the bridge were destroyed in a revolt led by Queen Boudicca in 60 AD. The victory was short-lived, and soon afterwards the Romans defeated the rebels and set about building a new walled town. Some of the 2nd-century Roman wall has survived to this day. The new town and bridge were built around the position of the present bridge, providing access to the south-coast ports via Stane Street (the A3 route) and Watling Street (the A2).
The southern gatehouse, the Stone Gateway, became the scene of one of London's most notorious sights: a display of the severed heads of traitors, stuck on pikes and dipped in tar to preserve them. The head of William Wallace was the first to appear on the gate, in 1305, starting a tradition that was to continue for another 355 years. Other famous heads on pikes included those of Jack Cade in 1450, Thomas More in 1535, Bishop John Fisher in the same year, and Thomas Cromwell in 1540. In 1598 a German visitor to London counted over 30 heads on the bridge:
- "On the south is a bridge of stone eight hundred feet in length, of wonderful work; it is supported upon twenty piers of square stone, sixty feet high and thirty broad, joined by arches of about twenty feet diameter. The whole is covered on each side with houses so disposed as to have the appearance of a continued street, not at all of a bridge.
Upon this is built a tower, on whose top the heads of such as have been executed for high treason are placed on iron spikes: we counted above thirty".
The practice was finally stopped in 1660.
The mediaeval bridge itself was demolished in 1831.
Until 1750 when Westminster Bridge was built, London bridge was the only structure crossing the River Thames.
The medieval bridge was replaced in 1831, but in 1967 it was dismantled and re-assembled as "London Bridge (Lake Havasu City) London Bridge" at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, now linking an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.
In 1968, the current bridge was built.
At 22:08 BST on 3 June 2017, a van rammed multiple pedestrians on London Bridge. The incident, along with a stabbing attack in Borough Market, led to seven deaths. Three presumed terrorists were shot dead by the police.
Images for kids
Rennie's "New" London Bridge during its reconstruction at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, March 1971.
View of London Bridge from a boat passing under Cannon Street Railway Bridge
The current London Bridge, pictured in January 1987. The skyscraper in the background is the National Westminster Tower (Tower 42), opened six years earlier.
London Bridge from 20 Fenchurch Street
London Bridge with new security barriers installed in 2017. Above right is the bulbous Walkie-Talkie building.
Old London Bridge by J. M. W. Turner, showing the new balustrade and the back of one of the pedestrian alcoves.
One of the pedestrian alcoves from the 1762 renovation, now in Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets. A similar alcove from the same source can be seen at the Guy's Campus of King's College London.
A section of balustrade from London Bridge, now at Gilwell Park in Essex.
London Bridge Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.