Expand your U.K. IQ: The stuff children’s songs are made of
Stars and Stripes June 13, 2007
London Bridge may not be the most picturesque span in the city, but its storied history stretches back to the Roman era.
For almost 2,000 years, invaders and settlers have built and replaced many variations of the bridges over the River Thames in order to keep both sides of London connected.
In 80 AD, the first London Bridge was erected from the Southwark settlement. Another bridge had been built 40 years earlier to assist the Roman army invading inland, but isn’t recognized as a London Bridge since the city did not exist at that time, according to www.oldlondonbridge.com, the London Bridge Museum & Educational Trust Web site.
Centuries later, the children’s melody “London Bridge is Falling Down” came about from an attack on a different London Bridge in 1014. The Saxons and a contingent of Norwegian Vikings sailed up the Thames to attack the bridge and divide the Danes, who were in control of London back then.
The Danes defended the timber bridge by hurling spears down on the ships. The intruders prevailed when they attached cables from their ships to the bridge and then rowed off to collapse it, the Web site said.
Two more timber bridges followed until a stone bridge was constructed in 1163 to last longer than its predecessors. Although it took 30 years to erect, the change to stone proved worthwhile as the bridge stood for more than 600 years, surviving fires and corrosion from shoddy maintenance.
This bridge eventually was replaced in 1831 with a granite bridge, which only lasted to the 1960s because of uneven sinking. In 1973, the London Bridge that hovers over the Thames today was completed.
The old bridge didn’t go to waste, though. American business tycoon Robert McCulloch bought it for nearly $2.5 million from the British government and later erected it over the Colorado River in Lake Havasu, Ariz. The bridge still stands and serves not only as a river crossing but also as a tourist attraction.
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