Famous Bridges of London
In London, a city that extends all alongside the Thames, the bridges are of a big significance. The first was already originated during the Roman times, most of them during the last three hundred years. Some are of a very functional arquitecture, others are small arquitectural artworks. But all of them are interesting, also due to their changeful history.
Which is the most known emblem of London? Some people argue it, and the Big Ben and the Tower Bridge have good prospects to be number one. But no matter if the Tower Bridge is the most famous building or one of the most famous buildings, the Tower Bridge is a first-order sightseeing of the city. Many times, people think that as the tower itself,the bridge is also time-honored and stands since a long time. But the Tower Bridge is still relatively young, it was inaugurated not earlier than the year 1894. At the northern bank one finds the Tower of London, after which the bridge has been named. At the south bank, there is the New City Hall, this uncommon building that reminds on the Leaning Tower of Pisa with its inclined position.
If one stands today in front of the bridge and admires its intensive colour arrangement, it is hard to imagine that the Tower Bridge shines in blue-white-red since not earlier than the year 1977 and until this year it was simply grey .
As the Big Ben, it was built in neo-gothic style as one of the many arquitectural performances of the Victorian times. The Tower Bridge is 244 m long, the bridge towers are of a height of 65m. The bridge consists on three parts, or,to be exactly, on four parts. Both neo-Gothic towers are communicated with the shore by two chain bridges of a length on 82 m each, the middle part between the towers are both parts of the flap bridge. If some bigger ships navigate on the Thames, still today, these parts are lifted up. This happens about 10 times per week. Thus, one has to be a little lucky or has to investigate a little if one wants to see it.
The pedestrian bridge between both towers is a special thing. It is roofed and glazed, thus not depending on the weather; Earlier, thanks to this it was possible to cross the bridge by pedestrians also if the middle part was lifted up. Today, with relatively few bridge flaps, it is not necessary any more and the towers and the pedestrian bridge have been rearranged to a museum; We want to recommend this museum to everybody. The view from the 43 m heighted means of communication is phantastic, specially if the weather is fine. From here, one looks to the Tower of London, overviews the southern bank of the Thames and has a very nice view to the City of London and to the Docklands with the Canary Wharf. Also the exhibition about the history of the Tower Bridge is highly interesting. Part of this is also a visit to the former machinery house with boilers, steam engines and pumps.
The entrance to the bridge and the exhibition is free for the ones who own a London pass. From April to October, it is daily opened from 10.00 a.m. to 17.30 p.m., from November to March daily from 09.30 a.m. to 17.00 a.m. The Tower Bridge offers a specially nice view in the evenings, when it is illuminated and reflects on the Thames.
The London Bridge is the bridge of the capital with the longest history and after the Tower Bridge, it is the most famous bridge of London. Thereby, its mere exterior is not very spectacular. But in the evenings, when it is colourfully floodlighted, together with its surroundings, it results to be a fascinating view. We were amazed when we were standing on the Queen's Walk and saw the London Bridge shining in red.
Already in the Roman times more than 2000 years ago, here, the first bridge of Londinium, the later London, was built. In the course of the times, it experienced several damages and was rebuilt and/or rearranged. Up to the year 1750, the London Bridge was the only bridge that crossed the Thames in the area of the city centre of today, then the Westminster Bridge provided some release for the immensely increased traffic between both river banks.
In the first half of the 19th century, the bridge was rebuilt at approximately 30 km upstream. Thereby, a stone bridge consisting on 5 archs and of a length of 283 m and a width of 15 m was originated; At the beginning of the 20th century, the continuously increasing traffic required an expansion of the bridge to 20m, a thing that led to difficulties with the fundaments. Today, this bridge actually stands in America, as in the year 1968 it was bought by an US-American and parts of it were used to cover a concrete bridge in Arizona. As it is practically impossible to miss a bridge at this spot over the Thames, the London Bridge of today was arranged from 1967 to 1972. Thereby, the length of 283 m was kept, but the width is of 32 m. It stands exactly at the same place were the previous bridge was standing. Due to this reason, during the building, the former bridge was dismantled step by step in accordance of the construction progress.
The London Bridge communicated the City of London with the city district Southwark at the southern shore of the Thames. The best way to get there is by the subway stations Monument or London Bridge.
The youngest bridge of London, the Millennium Bridge, attracts by its fascinating construction as a handing bridge and sensation-causing arquitecture. It is purely a pedestrian bridge that leads from the Tate Modern of Art at the southern bank to the St. Paul's Cathedral and to the City of London School at the northern bridge. The view from the bridge to the St. Paul's is phantastic. A lot of value was set on the fact that this view is always unlimited.
The technical data of the Millennium Bridge are also impressive. With a total length of 325 m and sustained by two columns in the river and a carrying cpacity of 5000 persons and/or 2000 tons, the constructors made a masterpiece. What is also noticeable is that the supporting cables are below the level of the footpath, a thing that makes a very good view from the bridge possible.
At the beginning of the new millenium, the Millennium Bridge was ceremonially inaugurated, but with a delay of two months. The shock followed immediately, as due to some strong and uncontrollable vibrations, two days later it had to be temporarily closed. The bridge rocked sideways in an unexpected way. After some extensive assays and the implementation of a special damper system, the bridge could be reopened to the the public in February 2002.
The unplanned closing did not have any late consequences. Today, the Millennium Bridge is one of the most known emblems of London and it is highly frequented. Maybe it is just an illusion, but by walking on the bridge we thought to feel the vibrations. It is an experience and we can only recomend everybody to walk at least once over the Millennium Bridge.
The Westminster Bridge is located at an exposed location right at the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. It is a street bridge of 252 m length and 25,5 m width that communicates the city district London Borough of Lambeth and the City of Westminster. The arquitect Charles Barry, who designed the Palace of Westminster in neo-gothic style, is also responsible for the neo-gothic adornments of the bridge. It spans over the Thames with seven wrought-iron arches.
In the year 1739, after long arguments and feuds, the foundation stone was layed for the Westminster Bridge, but as a result of numerous adversities as wars, earthquakes, accidents etc., the building could not be finished until the year 1750. From the year 1836, the step-by-step renovation began for a time period of then years, but soon, the plan for a complete new building was originated.
The time came in the year 1862, the new and much more stable bridge could be inaugurated. The building must have been of a very good quality, as up today, only a few smaller repairings were necessary. By the way, the Westminster Bridge is painted green in relation to the colour of the leather armchairs of the House of Commons. The Lambeth Bridge in the proximity is red, according to the armchairs of the House of Lords.
Further Bridges in London
London has some more bridges that are less known. The Waterloo Bridge that communicates the city districts of London, City of Westminster and London Borough of Lambeth, is, with a length of 381 m, the longest bridge of the capital. It was originated in the year 1811 as "Strand Bridge" and after the battle of Waterloo and the definite victory over Napoleon it was renamed to Waterloo Bridge. In the year 1923, it had to be barred, as the foundations strongly sank. The reconstruction began in the year 1937 but it was delayed due to the world war, so that the Waterloo Bridge could not be finished until the year 1945.
The Lambeth Bridge also communicates the city districts City of Westminster and London Borough of Lambeth and offers a very attractive view. The 252 m long bridge was inaugurated in the year 1862, but due to its steep access ramps it was mostly only used for the pedestrians. After increasing limitations as a result of advanced corrosions, in the year 1905 it was decided to built a new bridge at this place. But then nothing happened for a long time; Not earlier than in the year 1929, the reconstruction began, the new Lambeth Bridge was not inaugurated until the year 1932. It has a length of 237 m, consists on steel and ferro concrete and is cladded with polished granite. It is painted in red, a thing that is supposed to give a hint to the armchairs of the British House of Lords.
The Vauxhall Bridge looks similarly to the Lambeth Bridge, at which south-eastern access road the headquarter of the British Foreign Secret Service SIS is located. During its inauguration in the year 1816, it was the first iron-made bridge of London. After some signs of abrasion it was demolished in the year 1898 and the reconstructed new bridge, on which the trams of London travelled for the first time, was inaugurated by the later King George V. This new bridge consists on five steel arches that lay on some granite columns and has a length of 246,5 m.
The Southwark Bridge is relatively short with 197,5 m, was inaugurated in the year 1819, but due to the road charge, a quite bumpy roadway and bad access roads it was not used very much. After the road charge was abolished in the year 1864, the traffic on the bridge strongly increased, so that soon, a reconstruction was required. The time came in the year 1921, the new Southwark Bridge could be inaugurated. The Blackfriars Bridge stands specially out due to its cast-iron balustrade in Venetian style. In direct proximity, the Blackfriars Railway Bridge is located, a railway bridge. The Blackfriars Bridge is 281 m long and respectable 32 m wide.
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Author: Michael Nitzschke, Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz