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London Bridge

Rennie's Bridge

London Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Go Lake Havasu

Bridge Documented: 2022

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
McCulloch Boulevard Over Bridgewater Channel Canal
Location
Lake Havasu City: Mohave County, Arizona: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1831 By Builder/Contractor: Jolliffe and Banks of United Kingdom and Engineer/Design: John Rennie, Sir John Rennie, and George Rennie of United Kingdom
Rehabilitation Date
1971
Main Span Length
150.0 Feet (45.7 Meters)
Structure Length
930.0 Feet (283.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
33 Feet (10.06 Meters)
Spans
5 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
8630

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

As of the end of 2021, Lake Havasu, Arizona has been home to the historic old London Bridge for 50 years. Formerly located over River Thames in London, England, this bridge was relocated and preserved on Oct. 10, 1971 at Lake Havasu, forming a signature landmark for the area, and it remains today well-maintained as one of the most unique historic preservation projects in the world. While the relocation of historic metal truss bridges is not uncommon, stone arch bridges are rarely moved, due to the labor required, and limited flexibility to accommodate different waterways and elevations. That this bridge was moved across an ocean to a different continent made for a one-of-a-kind project! In its new home, the bridge fits perfectly because the waterway it crosses is manmade, and built to fit the bridge.

London Bridge in England is a crossing with a very long history. The first bridge that enjoyed widespread fame was built in 1209 and stood until 1831. This stone arch bridge with numerous very short spans was famous for having many houses and buildings right on the bridge deck over the river. The bridge was the subject of many paintings. Over the course of such a long history, the bridge and its buildings underwent many changes, some as the result of fires which required rebuilding. A major change to the bridge took place in 1759 when two arches were replaced with a larger single arch called the Great Arch, designed to improve navigation. Eventually all buildings were removed from the bridge in 1761.

The next famous London Bridge was built in 1831 to replace the previous bridge. Although famous engineer Thomas Telford proposed what would have been an incredible single span iron arch bridge, his proposal was rejected. Instead, John Rennie’s design of a stone arch bridge was accepted. Rennie’s Bridge, as it became known, was more traditional in appearance by “modern” standards, with longer stone arch spans that its predecessor, but lacking the striking modernity (for the period) that Telford’s design would have offered. By 1896, this bridge was very busy with 900 crossings per hour. The bridge eventually began to suffer from this traffic, with the bridge actually slowly sinking into the river. Although sinking as great as four inches was noted by 1924, it was not until 1968 that the action on a bridge replacement was undertaken. Officially opened in 1973, and displaying the typical architecture (or lack thereof) of the period, the bridge is perhaps the most mundane of all the major River Thames bridges in London. Indeed it is one of the few bridges over the River Thams in London that was NOT photographed for inclusion on HistoricBridges.org. Its simple pre-stressed concrete box girders are a striking contrast to other bridges in the area, which typically display older, more complex, and highly ornamented designs.

Before Rennie’s Bridge was replaced, London sought to offer the bridge for reuse and they engaged in marketing of the historic bridge for relocation and reuse, an unusual practice for the time, and even by today’s standards, fairly unusual for such a large bridge. Even more shocking is that the effort was successful, and on top of this, the buyer was not someone in the same country or even the same continent! Robert McCulloch, who was working with C.V. Wood (the designer of Disneyland) to develop and build a new city, Lake Havasu City, in Arizona took note of the bridge and decided to take ownership and move the bridge to Lake Havasu City. The process involved match marking, dismantling, and shipping 10,276 granite blocks to Long Beach, California, where they were trucked to the job site. Technically, this project was not a complete relocation and restoration. From an engineering standpoint, the bridge seen at Lake Havasu City is a modern reinforced concrete arch bridge with stone facing composed of the stones from Rennie’s Bridge. Nevertheless the bridge is a visually accurate representation of Rennie’s Bridge and the placement of the stones on the facing is faithful to the original arrangement. As such, it remains a valuable interpretation of London’s history here in the United States. The erection of the bridge at Lake Havasu was an interesting process. Because the waterway which was bridge would cross was to be manmade and had not been constructed yet when the bridge was moved, the arches were built resting on the ground, which was excavated as needed to support the arch during construction. This eliminated the need for arch centering (falsework) as would normally be needed when an arch bridge is erected over a crossing. Once the bridge was assembled, the waterway was dug out from under the arches, forming the complete bridge.

In October of 2021, the bridge celebrates 50 years of life in the United States. Learn more about the celebration at https://www.golakehavasu.com/a/london_bridge_50th_anniversary/

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet For This Bridge

 

Above: The 1209 Old London Bridge on 1632 oil painting "View of London Bridge" by Claude de Jongh. This bridge was replaced by Rennie's Bridge which is in Arizona today.

 

Above: An 1832 painting showing the demolition of the 1209 bridge with the newly completed Rennie's Bridge to the left.

Above: Sir John Rennie, builder of Rennie's Bridge in London. He died before the bridge was built, but his son carried on after.

Above: Rennie's Bridge as it appeared in London.

Above: Rennie's Bridge as it appeared in London.

Above: Photo showing the replacement of the bridge in London, England.

Above: Photo showing the stones of London Bridge after they arrived in Arizona.

Historical photo showing Robert P. McCulloch discussing the bridge plans.

Historical photo showing project team discussing the bridge plans at he bridge's future location.

 

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction at Lake Havasu City.

Above: Historical 1970 photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical photo showing Robert P. McCulloch, with construction at Lake Havasu City visible behind.

 

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction at Lake Havasu City.

Above: Historical 1970 photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Construction of London's Bridge at Lake Havasu in 1971.

Above: Historical photo showing newly completed bridge in Arizona.

Above: Historical 1971 photo showing newly completed bridge in Arizona.

Above: Logo for the bridge's 50th "rebirth" day.

Above: Interpretive pamphlet from Lake Havasu Museum of History. Click for enlargement.

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Maps and Links: London Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

Search For Additional Bridge Listings:

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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