PortCities London

Bridging the Thames


London Bridge and the river as seen from the top of the Monument.
View full size imageLondon Bridge and the Thames, seen from the Monument. © NMM

When the Romans founded London, they built the first London Bridge.

Destroyed and rebuilt many times, this bridge was London's only link with the south bank of the Thames until the 18th century.

Lotta at London Bridge Wharf, with New Fresh Wharf being built.
View full size imageThe Lotta, seen from London Bridge. © NMM
London Bridge was regarded as the western limit of the port of London, and was a unique place from which to watch the ships below.

Tower Bridge (1895), by W.L. Wyllie.
View full size imageTower Bridge, by W.L. Wyllie. © NMM
By the end of the 19th century, the growth of London's traffic meant a bridge further east was needed.

This had to be a special bridge that was able to allow ships to pass.

Tower Bridge with two boys in the foreground.
View full size imageTower Bridge, with two boys in the foreground. © NMM
Although controversial at first, Tower Bridge soon became one of London's favourite structures and an instantly recognizable symbol of London and Britain.


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