First of all readers I would like to welcome you all back to my blog after the long Christmas break and I wish you all a very Happy New Year and best wishes for 2010.
Now, let’s go back to the past - today we look at the famous London Bridge.
The carriage passes what looks like Westminster Palace (minus Big Ben) and eventually turns into a narrow street. Wait a minute, it's not a street, it's actually the bridge.
But nothing like the London Bridge I know.
First of all, there are buildings all over it ... There is hardly any room for people to walk about.
The London Bridge that we see today only opened in 1973, but there were many others built before that. Today we shall focus only on the 17th century bridge that Picky is crossing. Or trying to cross. In a carriage slowly moving through a road busier than Oxford Street on Christmas Eve.
The Old London Bridge was first opened in 1209, complete with gates, houses and a chapel. By 1358, records showed that there were 138 shops set up that were paying rent.
The bridge went through a number of other builds to make it look the way Picky saw it. Unfortunately, like the song says, it was always falling down. All those buildings were weighing down on the arches and causing damage little by little and eventually huge problems began to occur. Incidents usually involved fire damage, and collapse from lack of repair or extreme winter weather. In 1460, it was finally decided that the bridge would be completely rebuilt over a period of 30 years.
During the 17th Century, where our book is set, there were multiple fires across the bridge destroying shops and homes. Eventually another big development began to take place to help to widen the bridge's streets and make more space simply for people to move around and about. Even more space was created when an Act of Parliament was passed in 1756 to remove all of the houses from the bridge.
Now we shall dig even deeper into some more interesting areas of history…
As we all like the disgusting topics we cannot write this post without mentioning beheading. Over the years a number of heads were placed on display across London Bridge - the first in 1309 was William Wallace (hero of the Wars of Scottish Independence), followed by Wat Tyler (leader of the Peasants' Revolt), Jack Cade (leader of the Kent Rebellion against King Henry VI), Saint John Fisher (executed for treason and whose head was so scary and life-like that it had to be thrown into the Thames), and all those behind the Gunpowder Plot against the Houses of Parliament.
A popular myth regarding Old London Bridge is that when it was sold off in 1968 to the McCulloch Oil Corporation the man who bought it, Robert McCulloch, thought that he was buying Tower Bridge. This is simply untrue. Mr McCulloch knew what he was buying when he bought it. If you are ever in Lake Havasu City in Arizona you can pay a visit and marvel at how a whole bridge was transported across the Atlantic and over halfway across the U.S.A.
And before I finish I would like to credit The London Bridge Museum and Educational Trust website for all the dates and numerous other bits of information provided in this blog post.