Bridging the Thames
|Rennie's London Bridge|
New bridges to the west
By the beginning of the 19th century, London was growing at an unprecedented rate, and its links with the south bank of the Thames were clearly no longer adequate. Several proposals for a new London Bridge were considered, including a bold design from Thomas Telford, but the matter was shelved.
He had started a bridge in Vauxhall in 1811, but Walker's design was preferred as the cheaper option.
Despite this setback, Rennie completed two other bridges in London.
These were Waterloo Bridge, opened in 1817, and Southwark Bridge, opened two years later.
Building Rennie's bridge
Work began in 1824, and took seven years to complete.
Rennie's bridge was a total success. It allowed a far greater volume of traffic to cross the river, and was a huge improvement on the old London Bridge.
Although it was functional and built to the highest standards of the time, it was also a very attractive structure.
It became a favourite subject for London's artists, particularly William Wyllie, who painted it many times.
The bridge under threat
Despite the success of Rennie's bridge, it eventually failed to cope with the demands made upon it.
Not even Rennie could have imagined how rapidly London's traffic would grow.
Despite the building of many other bridges to the west (and Tower Bridge to the east), London Bridge became busier all the time.
The bridge replaced
By the 1960s, the traffic was too great for Rennie's bridge. As it could not be widened again, it was dismantled and replaced with a functional bridge, opened in 1972. However, the bridge lives on - it was re-erected in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
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