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The Design Behind the Bridges of London – Traveler’s Snippets

Every local or visitor might relate London to its continuous rainy weather. The historical significance of London and the beautiful structures offer travelers an insight into the rich human-made creations in the city. Bridges are creations that are designed to make traveling easier. Knowledge about the famous bridges in London like The Millennium Bridge and London Bridge is common. However, the actual design facts aren’t easy to come by without closer research.

The Millennium Bridge

As one of the first bridges that cross over the Thames River, the Millennium Bridge is one of the most complex and modern-looking structures. The Millennium Bridge has a sophisticated suspension design. Meaning, it is supported by reinforced wires. Thus, giving it the technical name, ‘Suspension Bridge.’  The Millennium Bridge holds a large deck and is supported by wires/cables. This bridge is located above the Thames River, between the bridges Southwark and Blackfriars Railway Bridge. Opened on 10th June 2000, the Millennium Bridge serves its purpose as a footbridge that crosses the river, Thames.

The Millennium Bridge has a different structure to other suspension bridges around the world. This famous design of the bridge is a result of a competition that took place in 1996 for creating the first bridge to span across the Thames. Arup, Fosters and Partners and Anthony Caro won the competition, due to their impeccable design themed as ‘blade of light’. Upon viewing the bridge, you will notice that it only has two river piers and is made of three main sectors that are at a distance of 81 meters. Even though the bridge is less than 20 years old, the millennium bridge has shown up in multiple movies, like Harry Potter’s Half-Blood Prince, The Guardians of The Galaxy and Namaste London.

The London Bridge

London Bridge in 1789. Joseph Farrington-drawing; Museum of London.

Everyone, has heard of the rhyme “London Bridge is falling”, and while the stories attached to the bridge is right, there is more to the actual structure than meets the eye. The bridge is similar to the millennium bridge, but where the millennium bridge is a suspension, the London Bridge is an arch bridge. An arch bridge is a building that utilizes arches in its structures, providing both stability and passage for boats to pass under it. The London Bridge has been around for so long that there have been records of it once being made entirely out of wood, making it extremely susceptible to storms and fires.

Therefore, to make sure that the bridge is still usable for armies and visitors, a competition was held where they chose a design that is best suited for the conditions of London. The deciding panel finally decided on a stone bridge that has five small archways under its deck which allowed boats to pass through, but over time this design caused many problems as a fire took place and damaged all houses and shops on top of the bridge. The latest bridge design was decided on and designed by the engineers Mott, Hay and Anderson, and architect Lord Holford. It consists of three prestressed concrete gliders, which combined raised to a total of 283 meters.