Bridge Ward Club
President Alderman Sir Alan Yarrow
© The Bridge Ward Club 2019 Privacy
Bridge Ward takes its name from London Bridge the first of which was made of wood by the Romans sometime between 100 and 400 AD. A number of other wooden bridges were erected but they all came to some misfortune.
In 1176 the first stone bridge was built by Peter de Colechurch, a priest at St Mary Colechurch in Cheapside. This bridge, which was over 900 ft long, 40 ft high but only 20 ft wide, had 19 irregular shaped arches and a drawbridge and took 33 years to build. This bridge stood for 656 years. Unfortunately soon after the bridge was finished, stalls, shops and houses were erected on each side of the bridge so that by 1358 there were 138 shops and houses on it. This reduced the roadway considerably and eventually because of the congestion caused they were removed between 1758 and 1762.
One of the buildings erected on the bridge was a chapel which stood on the 9th pier from the City dedicated to St Thomas a Becket but by the late 14th century it was rebuilt by Henry Yevele, the King's Mason. The bridge also had a gatehouse to protect the drawbridge close to the Southwark shore and a stone gate at the Southwark end which was the formal entrance into the City.
During its life this old Bridge witnessed many historical pageants when kings and queens, mobs and rebels used the bridge. As it was the only entry into the City from the south for many centuries it was always full of pilgrims, monks, merchants, armies and travellers from the highest to the low.
In the early 19th century another London Bridge had to be built and John Rennie’s bridge was opened in 1831 just up river from the old bridge, but after only 80 years one of the piers began to settle in the Thames. This bridge was the one that was eventually sold to Americans in 1968 for £1,000,000 and was re-
The present bridge which is 107 ft wide (more than five times the width of the bridge built in 1176) was opened in 1973.
For more information about London Bridge and its history go to www.oldlondonbridge.com.