The history of those iconic 10 bridges ...
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We start our walk on London Bridge. this is actually a picture from London Bridge. These two are regularly, and famously, mixed up.  We start our walk with this great view of the world famous Tower Bridge, which dates back to 1894. It took 8 years and 432 construction workers to build. Two massive piers were sunk into the river, and the steel was covered in Cornish granite and Portland stone, to give it 'a pleasing appearance'.
The current London Bridge opened in 1973. Its predecessor was sold to an American and reconstructed in Arizona in 1971, where it still stands.
The first London Bridge served the city for over 600 years. It had a central chapel, many shops, and houses up to 7 stories high. The wooden buildings had an inconvenient tendency to catch fire. In medieval times the severed heads of many 'traitors' were displayed on spikes on the Southern gatehouse, including William Wallace (Braveheart in the film!).
In May 1811 a Bill was passed for the erection of a new bridge to cross the Thames a quarter of a mile west of London Bridge, and to be know as Southwark Bridge.  The work was done by a private company, and the cost stated to have been about £800,000, though it would appear from contemporary records to have been considerably less...what a novel construction idea! The current version dates from 1921.
Millenium Bridge was built to commemorate the new millenium. It was unstable when it first opened, giving it the slighly worrying nickname of The Wobbly Bridge. Hundreds of people walked over it on the first day of January 2000 before it was closed down for a little bit of reassuring repair. The bridge links Tate Modern to St. Paul's Cathedral.
The lovely pink structure that is Blackfriars Bridge was opened in 1769, the third bridge spanning the Thames. It was called William Pitt Bridge, but slowly the name Blackfriars, named after a local monastery, took over. It was originally planned as a toll bridge, which proved very unpopular, and to this day remains the least crossed bridge in the city.
The original Waterloo Bridge was opened in 1817 just two years after the Battle of Waterloo. The elegant John Rennie design attracted many admirers including Claude Monet who painted it no less than 40 times from the windows of his rooms at the Savoy Hotel. After more than 100 years of use it had to be closed. The new bridge was mainly built during the years of the Second World War, with a largely female construction team, earning it the name the Ladies Bridge.
The first Hungerford Bridge was designed by one of the country's most famous sons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and opened as a footbridge in 1845. Over the years it became dilapidated, and even gained a reputation for being dangerous-it was the site of an infamous murder in 1999. A competition was announced to design a replacement, and in 2002 two new footbridges were opened. They were named the Golden Jubilee Bridges in honour of the Queen's Jubilee.
Westminster Bridge is the oldest bridge crossing the river in Central London, opening in 1750. The 'new' design, from 1862, has Gothic detailing by the architect of the Houses of Parliament. 

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
William Wordsworth, Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 1802
Long before there was a bridge at Lambeth there was a very busy horse ferry crossing, as this spot linked the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, on one side, and the King's Palace at Westminster on the other.  One of the most famous crossings of the Thames just here was that of Guy Fawkes' gunpowder, which had been hidden south of the river.

The first bridge was built here in 1862, and rebuilt after World War 1. Did you know that Lambeth Bridge is painted red, like the colours of the benches in the House of Lords, just as Westminster Bridge is painted green like the colours of the benches in the Commons?
The first Chelsea Bridge was intended to be called Victoria Bridge but was constructed so badly that its name was changed to protect the Royal Family should it collapse!  The bridge was built to bring people over from highly populated Chelsea to the new expanse of Battersea Park, which had been dredged from marshlands as part of the great Victorian expansion and development of London.  It was decided that the bridge could be very plain, as the newly constructed Battersea Power Station already dominated the view.
Built in 1873, Albert Bridge is the only bridge in London with its tollbooths still in place, although not in use since 1879.  The bridge was not designed with motor vehicles in mind, and today has strict traffic controls to try to prolong its life.  It was painted in bright colours 25 years ago to avoid ships damaging it, and has over 4,000 LED lights, making it one of London's most striking landmarks. It has been nicknamed 'The Trembling Lady' due to a tendency to vibrate when large numbers of people walk over it. There's even a sign warning troops to break step.  Wait until they hear we're coming...
Battersea Bridge replaced a ferry service that had been operating at this spot since the 16th century.  This first Battersea Bridge was the last surviving wooden bridge in London, and the subject of famous works by artists such as Whistler and Turner. The bridge is situated on a bend in the river, and as a result is surprisingly often the scene of shipping collisions.
This bend also made it very easily fordable in ancient times, and it is believed to be the spot where Julius Caesar crossed the Thames when the Romans invaded Britain in 54BC.  And now us! Looking forward to seeing you there on Saturday.
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Finding Strength in Numbers

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Myotubular Trust · 15a Barnard Road · London, SW11 1QT · United Kingdom

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