Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 126,788 pages of information and 199,892 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

London Bridge

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Old London Bridge.
Old London Bridge.
1758. Temporary London bridge on fire on the 11th April.
Pulled down in 1831.
1831. Opening of the bridge on the 1st August.
1831. Opening of the bridge on the 1st August.
Opening of New London Bridge.
Opening of New London Bridge.
1902. Widening the London Bridge.
1902. Steel cantilevers.
1903. Widening.
April 1950.
1969. Work on the bridge.
1969. Work on the bridge.

Until 1750 there was only one link across the Thames to reach the Surrey and the South East. Passengers relied upon ferry links, which there were probably many.

It is thought that the first bridge built here was in 994 AD by the Pious Brothers of St. Marys Monastry on the Bankside. This initial structure was built of wood, but was badly damaged by the Danes in 1008. However it was completely destroyed by a flood in 1091. Now a necessity, William II comissioned another bridge to be built. Also in wood, this burnt down in 1136. Forty years later, in 1176, a more substantial bridge was started by Peter of Colechurch. It was completed in 1209 and had houses on each side. Despite multiple fires, the structure remained and became The place to be for booksellers! Famous names such as Holbein, Bunyan, Hogarth and Peter Monamy ( a marine painter) all took residence on the bridge at various times. Some of the best known book sellers that could be found on the bridge were Herbert (printer), Crispin Tucker, Swift and Pope. In 1212 another disaster struck and 3000 people died in the flames.

The residential bridge endured and developed until 1756, when the houses were all pulled down. The Southwark gate didn't come down until 1766.

In 1749 Westminster Bridge was opened.

Plans for a new London bridge were detailed in 1822 by John Rennie (Snr), but he didn't live to see the work. The bridge was Superintended by his son Sir John Rennie (Jnr). The first pile was laid in 1824. The finished bridge was opened in 1831 by William VI and Queen Adelaide. It is described in 1894 as a granite bridge with 5 elliptical arches. It was reputed to have cost over 2.5 million sterling!

Waterloo bridge was built by Sir John Rennie. It was originally to be called Strand Bridge, but then was named after the battle of Waterloo. The opening ceremony took place on 18th June 1817. The central towers are 293 ft high, from foundations to gilded grills! That is as high as St. Pauls' golden gallery. The elevated footpaths are over 140ft above the water level. Waterloo bridge is 940ft long, and with the approaches required on either side, the length of the work is nearly half a mile long.

In 1867 Colonel Haywood, engineer to the City Commissioners of Sewers, first recomended that a bridge should be laid on the East side of the Tower. In 1877 the architect Harry Jones an expert on high and low level bridges also favoured this site. In 1878 the city architect proposed a low level bridge with a central high level opening, but died 2 years later. Harry Jones and John Wolfe Barry were comissioned with the project and in June 1886 a month after the excavations were started, a memorial stone was laid. The Tower Bridge was completed in July 1894.

The bridge was widened to 65 ft. in 1902.[1]

Parliamentary consent was obtained to rebuild in the London Bridge Act 1967.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Samuel Jones Quarterly Magazine 1969 (Vol XLVII No.1)
  2. Samuel Jones Quarterly Magazine 1969 (Vol XLVII No.1)