Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the documentary London: A Tale of Two Cities. Jean reviewed two very different books — The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) and Akenfield: Portrait of a Country Village by Ronald Blythe. Tina didn’t like The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell as she did previous books by that author.
As I was writing my post last week on a documentary about 17th century London, I realized that the same architectural historian hosted a show about bridges in London. So, I watched Bridges that Built London, hosted by Dan Cruickshank this week.
Between Richmond and the North Sea, 30 bridges span the Thames. They carry people across a stretch of river 35 miles long.
I adore the bridges of London. I’m prepared to love any movie or show that begins by flying over the Thames to see all the bridges from Vauxhall to Tower Bridge.
My love of rivers and bridges comes naturally.
I was raised in the small town of Louisiana, Missouri, about 30 miles downriver from Hannibal. We have the only highway bridge crossing the Mississippi between Hannibal and Alton, Illinois — a stretch of over 100 miles.
The very narrow truss bridge that I learned to drive across has recently been replaced by a modern steel girder bridge — one that everyone in the region hopes will be flooded less frequently. Losing the only bridge in a hundred miles is very disruptive.
Although there are 30 bridges in the London region now, for most of its history there was only one, or none.
The oldest bridge, found by archaeology, was built in 1500 BCE — possibly for religious ceremonial purposes rather than transport. It was near the present-day Vauxhall Bridge.
The first historical bridge was built by the Romans. This one was near the current London Bridge — crossing the narrowest portion of the river. There has been a bridge at that spot, on and off, for 2000 years.
London Bridge, the one that the nursery song is about, is the medieval version — with houses and shops on top of it. The story about the building of the bridge, its maintenance and tolls, and the impact to the current day was fascinating.
I wrote a previous post about London Bridge, after the terrorist attack in June 2017, but learned even more from this documentary.
My other favorite story from this documentary was about the engineering and design of Tower Bridge.
What are your favorite bridges?