ONDON BRIDGE (New). The present noble structure, simple in style, proportions, and construction, was built from designs of John Rennie and his sons, Sir John and George. The first pile was driven 15th March, 1824, and the first stone laid on the 15th June, 1825, the work occupying rather more than six years in completion, or till 1831, when on the 1st August of that year it was publicly opened by King William IV. and Queen Adelaide.
The construction consists of five semi-elliptical arches built of granite. The centre one of 152 feet span, rising 29 feet 6 inches above high-water mark; the two arches immediately next the centre are 140 feet in span, with a rise of 27 feet 6 inches; and, the two abutment arches, with a span of 130 feet, rise 24 feet 6 inches. The cost of the bridge, including the various approaches, as shown by the accounts, was nearly two millions of money.
The present structure is the third of that name over the Thames at London. The first -- a wooden bridge, built by one Isambard de Saintes -- stood lower down the river by Botolph's Wharf. The second structure, or Old London Bridge, replaced by the present, or New London Bridge, was of stone, 926 feet long, 40 feet broad, and 60 feet high, built between the years 1176 and 1209, stood 180 feet below the present bridge, and consisted of nineteen stone arches, and a drawbridge, a chapel, and crypt in the centre, with gate-houses at each end. This bridge was built on piles, and when completed had a continuous set of houses on both sides, with "void places" at intervals and "chain posts" for foot passengers to retreat to. Taken altogether it was an inconvenient structure, some of the arches being so narrow that the passage of boats at flood tide was next to impossible, and really dangerous to pass through at ebb, as stated by Ray in his "Proverbs" published in 1737: "London Bridge was made for wise men to go over and for fools to go under." Swan Stairs was a well-known landing place on the Middlesex side of the river Thames, a little "above bridge," where people used to land and walk to the other side of Old London Bridge, rather than run the risk of what was called "shooting the bridge." This was the only bridge over the Thames at London till the erection of that at Westminster in 1738.
Herring JH. Thames Bridges from London to Hampton Court, with Topographical Descriptions from Best Known Authorities, H.R. Pinder, London, 1874.
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