The River Thames plays a crucial role in London’s history.
The Romans decided to establish the walled town of Londinium in 49 CE on the banks of the river due to the significant vantage point it gave them.
The river’s connection to the English Channel allowed for incredibly easy access, and the high banks meant defence was easy.
In the following 2,000 or so years not much changed. The river was a crucial element in the city’s success, allowing for transport of goods, animals and people both inland and out to the coast.
During the Victorian era the Thames was actually one of the busiest ‘streets’ in London and allowed for the rapid expansion of the city.
Whilst you are exploring London in the modern era you will notice that there are 35 bridges in the city that allow its inhabitants to cross the river with ease- some are absolutely gorgeous, and others are quite plain; but they all have a fascinating story behind them.
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Now let’s take a look at some of the city’s absolute best bridges!
Tower Bridge is the obvious place to start.
It is one of the most iconic bridges in the world, up there with the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.
The Bridge was completed in 1894 after a public competition to design the bridge was won by Sir Horrace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry, who worked in collaboration to design the stunning masterpiece.
It was originally painted a chocolate brown, but was repainted for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, and it looked so good in blue that the colour remains to this day!
The Bridge uses the Bascule design which was first powered by steam thanks to its efficiency! Tower Bridge is one of the finest Bascule bridges in the world, and watching it open is a sight to behold.
There are several attractions to be found here, including the ‘Skywalk’ where you’ll find yourself on a glass floor between the two towers at a height of 43 metres above the river!
This is without a doubt London’s most incredible bridge.
From your hotels near Chiswell Street London, Tower Bridge is easily accessible- so what are you waiting for?
Completed in 1873, this gorgeous bridge often flies under the radar thanks to its slight distance from the city centre.
It is one of the prettiest bridges in the city and was the idea of Queen Victoria’s husband Albert.
It uses the suspension system and the white and blue towers suspend the driving deck which has a pastel pink colour- it really is a beautiful sight.
For the first 6 years of its life it was a toll bridge, and the original toll booths still remain at either end of the bridge.
It connects Chelsea and Battersea Park, and is a must see for any engineering enthusiasts.
London Bridge has one of the longest and most destruction ridden histories of any bridge on the face of the earth.
It is thought that this is the spot where Caesar’s Roman Army first crossed the river, and then built their own pontoon bridge in the year 50 CE.
Later, in the year 990 CE this was destroyed and replaced with a yet another bridge. In 1091 this was destroyed by the London Tornado (it was a real thing, look it up!) and then replaced yet again.
This time in, in 1136 and 1173, two further versions of the bridge were damaged by fire.
The people of London gave up on the cursed bridge for a while, until 1831 when a new bridge was completed, although bizarrely this bridge was dismantled in 1968 and sold to an American billionaire who re-built it in Arizona… for some reason.
And finally, we are left with the actually quite plain and uninteresting version of London Bridge that was built in the 1970s.
It’s a bizarre history, with a strangely boring outcome! But the history of this bridge is amazing.
The Millenium Bridge
The Millenium Bridge was opened to celebrate the Millenium (obviously), but unfortunately it was only open for 48 hours before it had to be closed due extreme wobbling!
It was closed for a further two years whilst structural issues were addressed, and finally reopened in 2002.
This striking pedestrian bridge quickly became an icon of the city and has featured in films like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
It offers an incredible, head on view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and allows great access for pedestrians around the area.
Westminster Bridge was opened in 1750 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Palaces of Westminster and Big Ben.
It is actually the oldest road bridge in the city by quite a long way, and offers probably the best view of Big Ben anywhere in the city.
The arches are painted in the same green as the seats in the House of Commons, and the story goes that Jack the Ripper threw himself off this bridge for fear of getting caught in 1891- although this is not confirmed!
Explore London’s Bridges
So there you have it, some of the fascinating histories of London’s amazing bridges.
These structures don’t just act as a means for crossing the river, they actively enhance the city and the area. They add majesty to an otherwise unused space and they act as connections between otherwise divided communities.
From your gorgeous room in any one of the Montcalm Hotels In Central London you’ll be able to explore these stunning and historical structures that span the mighty Thames, so get out there and experience the history of the city, and these mighty structures.