Picture the City: London Bridge

How does transport impact the economy?

By Bank of England Museum

London Bridge from Pepper Alley Stairs (1766) by Herbert PughBank of England Museum

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London Bridge is the oldest river crossing in London

It brought prosperity to the city by bringing river and road traffic together, establishing London as a global marketplace in the process. 

This painting shows the masts and flags of the ships that brought goods to the Port of London from all over the world.  

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London Bridge has been re-built multiple times

The first London Bridge joined the marshes of south London with the high ground on the north bank of the Thames. It started life as a wooden bridge before being replaced with a stone arch bridge in 1209 – the first of its kind in Britain.

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At this time, the bridge aligned with Fish Street Hill, several yards east of its current location. It was London’s sole crossing point of the Thames, until Westminster Bridge was built in 1750.

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Fishmongers' Hall

Fishmongers’ Hall was the home of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. They have been on this site from 1434. The original building was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt, funded by the sale of the Company’s silver, and opened in 1671.

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A waterman steers his boat towards the steps, waiting for his next customers.

Thames watermen were a crucial part of early London’s transport system. They enabled Londoners to travel up, down and across the river, avoiding the narrow and crowded streets.

London Bridge (2020) by Justin PipergerBank of England Museum

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Today the river is no longer a key transport method for residents and commuters – the road, rail and underground networks carry the majority of travellers across London. These networks are crucial to our economy, enabling people to move around London for work and leisure.

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Before the pandemic, more than 350,000 people travelled into the City of London every day and nearly 40,000 of them crossed London Bridge.

How has the pandemic changed the way you travel?

London Bridge (2020) by Justin PipergerBank of England Museum

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London Bridge

London Bridge became too expensive to maintain, so it was completely rebuilt, moving to its current location in 1831. It was dismantled again from 1968, this time moving to Arizona, USA. Today’s version of London Bridge was constructed between 1968 and 1972.

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Fishmongers' Hall

Fishmongers’ Hall is still the home of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. In the early 1800s, when Parliament moved London Bridge to its current location, Fishmongers’ Hall was demolished to accommodate the bridge’s construction. It was then rebuilt in the same place.

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Walkie Talkie

20 Fenchurch Street is nicknamed as the Walkie Talkie, due to its shape. It’s an office building in the City of London, London’s financial district, and opened in 2014.

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NatWest Tower

Tower 42 is a skyscraper used as office and restaurant space. It is better known as the NatWest Tower as it was the headquarters of NatWest. From above, the tower shows three chevrons, reflecting NatWest’s logo.

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It was the City’s first skyscraper and was extremely controversial when it was first proposed, as it went against former restrictions on tall buildings in London.

London Bridge from Pepper Alley Stairs (1766) by Herbert PughBank of England Museum

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Back in historic London, the waterman has dropped you off by London Bridge. You wander up the street and soon find yourself in the bustling Stocks Market

Credits: Story

Picture the City is an exhibition produced by the Bank of England Museum.
London Bridge is stop 1 of 8 in this digital exhibition. The next stop is Mansion House. To go to the start of the exhibition, click here.

All images © Bank of England Museum except where stated.
Explore more and discover the sites in real life on our website!

With thanks to: Thomas.Matthews.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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