The secrets of London's bridges
River Thames in London is spanned by some 33 bridges from the iconic Tower Bridge to the troubled Millenium Bridge

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If there’s one thing that all of London’s bridges have in common, it has to be that they each have a story to tell. Sometimes in might be secrets or little-known facts about the bridge itself, and how it was constructed, other times, it might be about the area surrounding it. We put this list together of some of the most prominent bridges crossing the Thames, and some things to think about next time you cross them
One of London's oldest road bridges, with a history dating back to 1739, Westminster Bridge crosses the iconic Thames River, running from Westminster on the north bank to Lambeth on the south side. Overlooked by Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Grade II listed bridge is one of London's most photographed landmarks, immortalized by painters like JMW Turner and Samuel Scott, and seen on-screen in movies including Mission Impossible, 28 Days Later, and Die Another Die.Located right in the heart of central London, it's hard to miss Westminster Bridge and there are plenty of ways to visit. Perhaps stroll across the famous bridge on a walking tour of London, cruise beneath its arches on a Thames River sightseeing cruise, or enjoy a spectacular aerial view from the London Eye or The Shard. Alternatively, see the illuminated bridge at its most atmospheric during a night tour of the city, or visit on New Year's Eve to watch the dazzling fireworks over the riverfront.
Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in London. It was opened in 1894, designed to echo the nearby Tower of London although the two have no association except proximity. The bridge is a bascule bridge which means the span lifts to allow ships and yachts through headed for the Pool of London, the port area just upstream of Tower Bridge. River traffic takes priority over road traffic and cars have to wait when a boat wants to come through. The bridge has two high towers suspended by wires from the land and linked by a high-level walkway between. This was designed for pedestrians to be able to cross the river even when the bridge was open and you can still walk across it today. A common confusion is that Tower Bridge is actually called London Bridge but in fact that is the next one upstream, a much plainer bridge.
London Bridge is the oldest bridge over the River Thames. While the current incarnation of the bridge dates from the 1970s, there has been a bridge in this place since around 50 AD, when the Romans drove some wooden piles into the river's mud. Since then there has always been a bridge here, and for a long time it was the only one. Nowadays there are many bridges crisscrossing the Thames. Sadly, London Bridge is not one of the prettiest of the Thames bridges, although its name might be the most famous. Expecting the name to conjure up something special, people often mistakenly call Tower Bridge London Bridge. This leads to the story that an American bought London Bridge in 1968, thinking he'd bought Tower Bridge what he did buy now spans a lake in Arizona.
  • London Bridge was sold to an American entrepreneur for £1m on April 18, 1968. It may not be the 'dumb yanks' story of legend, but the transatlantic sale of London Bridge is an incredible tale of British audacity and American ambition. Contrary to popular belief, McCulloch did not mistakenly think he was buying Tower Bridge. He had publicity pictures taken of himself on London Bridge after the sale, before it was deconstructed, so was clearly aware which bridge he had purchased. Today, the reconstructed London Bridge is now the second biggest single tourist attraction in the state of Arizona behind the Grand Canyon.
Blackfriars Bridge is the busiest of the four bridges located in central London. It crosses the River Thames bringing both road and foot traffic from one side to the other. The bridge has been updated several times, but the current bridge is 923 feet long, 105 feet wide, and has five wrought iron arches. Stone carvings decorate the piers of the bridge. On the east side the carvings show marine life and seabirds, and on the west side the carvings depict freshwater birds. This reflects the tidal turning point in the river. Most river boat tours along the River Thames will sail underneath the Blackfriars Bridge along with Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and London Bridge. In 1982 the bridge gained international notoriety when the body of Roberto Calvi, a former chairman of Italy's largest private bank, was found hanging from one of the arches of the bridge. Five bricks were attached to his body, and around 14,000 in three different currencies was found in his pockets.
The 330-meter-long steel Millennium Bridge stands over the River Thames, connecting the St. Paul's Cathedral to the north with Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern at the southern end of the structure. Due to a noticeable swaying motion, which had some people clinging to the rails feeling seasick and others enjoying the exhilarating ride, the structure had to be closed down only two days after opening in June, 2000. Although it took almost another two years to complete the necessary repairs, install dampeners and make the bridge more stable, it had already become widely famous in the two days it was accessible and earned itself the nickname ?Wobbly Bridge.?The suspension bridge is no longer wobbly, but it is still an interesting way to cross the Thames. And due to its low-hanging support beams and rods, the bridge offers nice views of both the City of London and the South Bank.
Richmond Bridge is an 18th-century stone arch bridge that crosses the River Thames at Richmond, connecting the two halves of the present-day London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It was designed by James Paine and Kenton Couse. The bridge, which is a Grade I listed, was built between 1774 and 1777, as a replacement for a ferry crossing which connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham to the west. Its construction was privately funded by a tontine scheme, for which tolls were charged until 1859. Because the river meanders from its general west to east direction, flowing from southeast to northwest in this part of London, what would otherwise be known as the north and south banks are often referred to as the "Middlesex" (Twickenham) and "Surrey" (Richmond) banks respectively, named after the historic counties to which each side once belonged. The bridge was widened and slightly flattened in 1937–40, but otherwise still conforms to its original design. The eighth Thames bridge to be built in what is now Greater London, it is today the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London.
  • Built between 1774 and 1777 as a replacement for a ferry crossing, Richmond Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the Thames, being more than a century older than Tower Bridge, which was built between 1886 and 1894.
Lambeth Bridge is a road traffic and footbridge crossing the River Thames in an east-west direction in central London. The river flows north at the crossing point. Downstream, the next bridge is Westminster Bridge; upstream, the next bridge is Vauxhall Bridge. The most conspicuous colour in the bridge's paint scheme is red, the same colour as the leather benches in the House of Lords, which is at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster nearest the bridge. This is in contrast to Westminster Bridge, which is predominantly green, the same colour as the benches in the House of Commons at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament. On the east side, in Lambeth, are Lambeth Palace, the Albert Embankment, St. Thomas' Hospital, and the International Maritime Organization. On the west side, in Westminster, are Thames House (the headquarters of MI5), behind which is Horseferry House (the National Probation Service headquarters), and Clelland House and Abell House (the headquarters of HM Prison Service), and the Millbank Tower and Tate Britain. The Palace of Westminster is a short walk downstream to the north through the Victoria Tower Garden.
  • Stand on the south side of the river between the Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge for a great view of the Houses of Parliament. Now look at the colours of the bridges. The colour scheme of Lambeth bridge is red, matching the benches in the House of Lords, which is on the side of Westminster Palace closest to Lambeth Bridge. Westminster bridge however, is predominantly green, the same colour as the leather on the seats in the House of Commons, on the side of the Palace nearest to it.
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. Its name commemorates the victory of the British, the Dutch and the Prussians at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Thanks to its location at a strategic bend in the river, the views from the bridge (of Westminster, the South Bank and the London Eye to the west, and of the City of London and Canary Wharf to the east) are widely held to be the finest from any spot in London at ground level.
  • Waterloo Bridge is also known as "Ladies Bridge" - The first Waterloo Bridge was finished in 1817, two years after the Battle of Waterloo. However, opened in 1945, its replacement was built during the second world war, and was constructed mainly by a female workforce, hence the nickname.
  • Book lovers - check out the daily book market that’s held on the Southbank side, under the bridge . It’s one of the largest outdoor book markets in the UK and because it's under the bridge, it’s open rain or shine.
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.

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