Both the London Bridge in England and the Havasu London Bridge have a rather illustrious history. The first London Bridge was built by the Romans in 43 AD. However, it was only a temporary pontoon bridge. History books tell of the London Bridge of 984, from which a woman, believed to be a witch, was thrown. In 1014, King Olaf of Norway tied his ship to the piles supporting the bridge, and rowed off at full speed. Of course, this caused the bridge to collapse. By the way, he did this because the Danes who were occupying London were standing on the bridge throwing spears at the approaching ships.
The first stone bridge was built in 1176. This Gothic style bridge was supported by 20 arches. Merchants began to build shops and houses in the bridge. Unfortunately, throughout the next few, centuries, a series of disastrous fires would cause a considerable amount of destruction. Eventually, it was torn down.
The original, official London Bridge was built in 1831. The lights on the bridge had been constructed from Napoleon's cannons, which were melted down and made into bridge lamps. Unfortunately, as years went by and London's population increased, London Bridge was unable to withstand the increasing traffic over the Thames River, and by 1962, it was falling down. The British government decided that putting the bridge up for sale would be a rather clever idea. Believe it or not, they actually found a buyer! Robert McCulloch, who was the Founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation,was the lucky man. He submitted a winning bid of $2,460,000. McCulloch arrived at this figure by determining how much it would cost London to cut the granite so that it could be reused. He came up with 1, 200, 00, decided to double the amount and add 60,000, since he would be 60 years old when the Havasu London Bridge was completed. He actually got a bit of a tax break. To avoid taxation, the London Bridge was declared an antique. It has been cited as the world's largest by the Guinness Book of Records.
Arizona's London Bridge
The 22 million pound granite bridge was then dismantled, and each of the 10, 276 stones were marked. McCulloch had to spend another lucky 7 million dollars to have the London Bridge shipped overseas. The contents were first shipped to Long Beach, California, and then to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The reconstruction ceremony began on September 23, 1968. Sir Gilbert Inglefiend, the Lord Mayor of London was honored to attend and set down the cornerstone. On October 10, 1971, the Havasu London Bridge was dedicated. Over 50,000 spectators attended this event, which would soon put Lake Havasu City on the map. The area is now one of the most popular Arizona attractions.
The Havasu London Bridge now serves as a backdrop for a Tudor-style Medieval English village. Quaint shops and restaurants can be found throughout the area. You can even tune into radio KBBC, which is identified on the air as "BBC radio."
Top image: _gee_ (flickr)