The original London Bridge was built of wood between AD 100 and 400.  Over the ensuing the years the bridge was destroyed and rebuilt several times, until stone was finally used starting after 1176.  Beginning in 1582, two arches of the bridge were outfitted with waterwheels for pumping drinking water.  An accidental fire in 1633 destroyed half the bridge, including the arches with the waterwheels. By 1668-9 the pumping of drinking water resumed, and by 1761 four of the bridge's arches, all at the north end, had waterwheels in place.  In 1767 a fifth waterwheel, known as the Borough wheel, was added at the southern end of the bridge for Southwark households (see bridge before 1823 below).  

As part of a civic improvement project, competition started in 1799-1801 to create a new London Bridge.  The winning design by John Rennie (1761-1821) was a bridge of five stone arches, upstream of the old bridge.  Following the death of Rennie, his son (also named John) carried on and building started in 1824.  The new bridge was opened in 1831. King William IV and Queen Adelaide came from Somerset House by state badge to participate in the river pageant and conduct the opening ceremony (see below).  A year later, the old London Bridge was demolished.  The city refused to allow the New London Bridge to be disfigured with the earlier waterwheels, ending the pumping of polluted drinking water from the River Thames arches.  

Many years later in 1967-72 the London Bridge was again rebuilt.  The 1831 bridge from John Snow's time was sold to developers in the United States and re-erected at Lake Havasu City, Arizona (see bridge in 2000 below).  


(Quarter Mile Section - M 22)


Dickinson HW. Water Supply of Greater London, 1954.

Richardson J. The Annals of London, 2000. 

Weinreb B, Hibbert C (eds). The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

London Bridge Water Works Prior to 1823

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Picture in late 1820s

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Partially Completed London Bridge in 1827

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Sketch of Southern End of Bridge in 1827

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Sketch of Northern End of Bridge in 1828

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London Bridge in 1830 prior to Opening

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Picture of Bridge Opening in 1831

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Sketch of Southern End of Bridge in 1832

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Cruchley's Map of 1846

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Stanford's Map of 1862

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New and Old London Bridge in Maps of 1872-73

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Historical Account Published in 1874 

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Picture of Old London Bridge in Arizona in 2000

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Map of Old London Bridge Location in 2000

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