After savouring the delights of London Mr Bradshaw offers ‘A complete steamboat companion for summer excursions, Hampton Court to the Nore’. Part I is upriver. In 1895 a steamer left London Bridge at 10.00am in the summer, calling at all stops to Hampton Court. I will walk from London Bridge to Westminster and then take a River Boat to Hampton Court, a journey of over 22 miles.
London Bridge in its various incarnations was the only significant bridge over the River Thames for 1600 years from Roman times. Extraordinary! Bridge no.1 dates from Roman times, c,50AD-400AD, and Mr Bradshaw speaks of ‘..the rude wooden structure, with turrets and roofed bulwarks, that was swept away by the river in 1091..’. This was pulled down as an act of war in 1014. Bridge no.2 was swept away in a gale in 1091; and Bridge no.3 burned down in 1136. The first stone bridge, Bridge no.4, was built between 1176-1209 by Peter Colechurch and stood for a further 600 years. This bridge had 20 arches and a drawbridge, and houses and shops which which paid rent to upkeep the bridge.
Pedestrian access to the bridge was through a covered porch at the Church of St Magnus the Martyr and the bridge ended in Southwark at the site of No.1 London Bridge. Conversely this was the first City Church to greet people as they entered the City.
By 1763 all the buildings on the bridge had been pulled down and the bridge itself was increasingly damaged by the river currents. In 1821 Parliament decided to build a new London Bridge. A competition resulted in interesting designs, and the commission went to John Rennie, whose son completed the construction of London Bridge no.5 in 1823-31, one hundred yards further to the west from the Old London Bridge.
‘Contiguous to the bridge,’ says Mr Bradshaw, ‘are the steamboat piers that contribute largely to the animated scene this portion of the river always presents.’
Bridge no.5, however, started to sink. It was sold to the Americans and eventually reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Today’s bridge, London Bridge no.6, was built in 1967-72 by John Mowlem & Co.
You may be interested in
The remains of Old London Bridge
The History of London Bridge and here
Hauntings & St Magnus the Martyr
London Bridge & Bridge Ward – very interesting post!
Steamboats on the Thames in Victorian times