Interesting facts about the bridges in London

The River Thames is probably one of the main attractions of London, but it’s also an important landmark for Londoners: living north or south of the river could make a huge difference!

What the two areas have in common for sure, though, is how they’re linked to each other: through the bridges. Several bridges span the Thames in London, but not all of them are so popular to attract tourists, although they still have some interesting stories to tell.

Astor Hostels wants to share with you some trivia about the most interesting ones in Central London, but if you’re interested in this kind of stuff there is a lot more to learn about all the others too, so just keep browsing the internet (wikipedia!) to find out more.

London Bridge: built by the Romans in 50AD, this was the very first crossing of the Thames. The structure has undergone several replacement during the centuries and then has been sold to America, with the present bridge opening in 1973. The current London Bridge is the one often shown in films, as a symbol of the crowd of commuters journeying to work into the City.

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Tower Bridge: often confused with the London Bridge, this is actually one of the world’s most famous bridges and London’s most recognised landmark. This bridge, built over 100 years ago, is still raised about 20 times a week to allow tall ships, cruise liners and other large boats to pass underneath. It actually has an official website with all the lift times, for those who want to experience that, and a lot of other useful information www.towerbridge.org.uk

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Millennium Bridge: opening to the public in 2000, this was the first new pedestrian bridge crossing over the Thames for more than a century. At first there were some “instability” problems that made it famous as the ‘wobbly bridge’, but the problem was quickly (2 years!) put right by the developers. The bridge alignment is such that a clear view of St Paul’s south façade is presented from across the river, framed by the bridge supports: it is just the perfect background for a selfie!

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Albert Bridge: one of the few suspension bridges in London, and also among the most picturesque especially when illuminated at night. Opened in 1873 as a toll bridge, the toll-houses remain in place, but unused. With a reputation for being shaky (yes, this one too!), notices at both ends warn marching troops to break step when crossing.

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Vauxhall Bridge: the first bridge to carry a tram over the Thames. Built of steel, on granite piers, it was opened in 1906 as a replacement of an earlier bridge and it features eight bronze female sculptures representing the arts and sciences, made to use up surplus funds from the bridge-building. In 1963 it was proposed to replace the bridge with a modern development containing shops, office space, hotel rooms and leisure facilities supported above the river, but the plans were abandoned because of costs.

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