Arguably the most famous bridge over the Thames is London Bridge. The very first London Bridge was built over 1000 years ago, while the Romans were in control of London in AD43, and it was made of wood. When London was raided by the Danes in AD1013, they sailed upriver and managed to pull the bridge down. This is thought to be the origin of the old nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down".
The bridge was repaired in bits and pieces, but in AD 1209 in the reign of King John, the first stone bridge was built. It took 30 years to complete. A drawbridge gate was on the southern end of the Bridge – this was the infamous gate upon which heads of traitors were spiked on long wooden poles. The bridge even had shops, houses and a Chapel. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1665 and lasted until 1831.
London Bridge was then pulled down and a new bridge erected of stone, designed by Sir John Rennie. This graceful structure lasted until 1967, when it was decided that the bridge must be widened to cope with the vast increase in traffic since Victorian times. Rennie’s bridge was sold for two and a half million dollars to some American millionaires, who re-erected it on Lake Havasu in Arizona, where it is now a huge tourist attraction - I personally have seen it and walked across it in its new location, and it is SO narrow! The current London Bridge was opened in 1972 and is a 3-span concrete structure in a simple clean modern design, with a headroom of 29’2".
I coriander by sally gardner.
London Bridge is taken down
In 1971 London Bridge was sold to an American oil company for $2,460,000. There was a lot of talk about it at the time because people thought it was not right that London Bridge – a very British landmark – should find its way to America. When people in America heard that London Bridge was being transported there, many thought it was great. It has to be said though, that some people were believed to be a little disappointed – they thought they had bought the more picturesque and most often photographed Tower Bridge. The man who sold the bridge, Ivan Luckin, says this is nonsense – the company knew exactly what they were buying. London Bridge took three years to reconstruct on site.
If you Google London Bridge, you find a very interesting account of the sale of London Bridge which appears to be written by Ivan Luckin’s nephew, Terry Bedford. He tells the story that was told to him when he was a teenager.
Here are some extracts from his account: http://www.zyra.org.uk/londbr4.htm
The story goes somewhat like this: with exceptions for a rusty memory, Ivan Luckin, a true British gentleman, had his own advertising company. He, unusually for those days, visited America on business. He was Chairman of the City of London Police and a London Councillor.
In his capacity as councillor he attended meetings to decide what was to be done with the old bridge. Ivan thought he knew the Americans through his business dealings, and said that he felt that they would be willing to buy ‘history’ as he put it. The very idea seemed ridiculous, but he remained firm!
He visited America with the Town Clerk of London to promote the sale. Four hundred television stations, radio stations and newspapers attended the press conference. You could have heard a pin drop, he told me in his very plummy deep English gentleman’s voice, as he related the history of the item he had come to promote.
The rest is history, as they say. He telephoned Norris McWhirter and asked him to put an entry in the Guinness Book of Records, and was told that it wasn’t the biggest or the oldest or the longest bridge. But as Ivan pointed out it was the biggest antique to be sold, and was duly entered as the largest antique to be sold in the world. I think I have a 1972 issue with the entry.
Uncle Ivan strongly disputed the rumour that the Americans didn’t know what they were getting and somehow it was expected to be the Tower Bridge. He was secretly very disappointed that he didn’t get a knighthood or similar for his efforts.
If you want to know more about the bridge today see: havasumuseum.com
Part C: page 4 (continued)
By Neil Drumming
When David Paterson was a young boy,
he suffered a tragic loss that led to the
subsequent publication of the best-selling
book, Bridge to Terabithia. David’s
mother, Katherine Paterson, wrote
the 1978 Newberry Award-winning novel
to help her son cope with the untimely
death of a playmate. Bridge to Terabithia,
which tells the story of Jess, an awkward
middle-schooler who creates an imaginary
world with his friend Leslie, became
immensely popular among young adult
readers and, as such, was initially
a source of embarrassment for David.
“I was very ashamed of it,” the 40-year-old filmmaker recalls. “Here I was, gaining notoriety for something that was a rather unpleasant experience. For many years, I didn’t mention it to anyone.” But as an adult, he came to appreciate his mother’s gesture, and became determined to shepherd the work through to the big screen. The result of almost two decades’ worth of pushing the project to studios, Walt Disney Pictures’ Bridge to Terabithia finally hits theatres tomorrow.
Here are some extracts from an interview in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY with the same David Paterson, who co-produced the movie.
How close is the story to your real life?
It’s a work of fiction, but there are a lot of similarities. The fact that Jesse was an awkward kid who stuck by himself. He loved to draw and he loved to run, and had a strange relationship with his dad. His family was poor. He was in love with his music teacher. He became fast friends with a new girl in town. Pretty much all of that is me.
The young girl died, correct?
There is a tragedy — again, I’m being very diplomatic.
Why did your mother write the book?
She really started to write the book more for herself, as a kind of therapy. She was just trying to make sense of something that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. She never thought it would be published. And yet here we are, 30 years later, and it remains a very popular book. It touches on some very basic emotions that we all went through as kids, like, do I fit in the world? It deals with bullies. It deals with the desire for parental love or approval.
How did you react to the book when it was first published?
Actually, my mom let me read it beforehand. She was not going to publish it without my approval — which is a little crazy, putting your career in the hands of an eight year-old. But I said that she should publish it with the one request: that she add my best friend’s name to the dedication page. It’s still on there today.
As the book became more popular, how did that affect your life?
When people said, “Oh, you’re the original Jess? That’s really cool,” it was like someone pointing out a scar. They have absolutely no idea how you got it. It took me many many years to realize that my friendship was a true gift from my friend, and what she gave me, I possibly can help give to others — meaning the film.
Jesse Aarons is the middle child in a family of five living in the country in Virginia. All his siblings are girls – Brenda and Ellie are older, May Belle and Joyce Ann are younger – and somehow Jesse feels that neither of his parents have any time for him. He does not fit in at school either. Then along comes Leslie Burke, a new girl, who is an outsider too. She doesn’t seem to care what people think of her, even if she has no friends. Inevitably, Jesse and Leslie become firm friends.
Jesse and Leslie also become King and Queen of their own imaginary kingdom, which they call Terabithia. They can only reach their secret kingdom in the woods by swinging across a creek on a tree rope. They share their dreams and their interests, Jesse doing his painting and drawing, and Leslie telling Jesse all the stories she has read and been told by her parents, who are both writers. Leslie is the leader but Jesse plays a stronger and stronger role in the friendship.
The end when it comes is tragic. Jesse is in Washington with his music teacher visiting an art gallery; Leslie goes alone to Terabithia and dies when the tree rope breaks, she hits her head against a rock and falls into the creek. Jesse does not know what to do, but takes strength from everything Leslie taught him about friendship and courage. He ends up building a wooden bridge over the creek, and taking his favourite little sister, May Belle, across to Terabithia. Extracts from the last chapter of the book after Leslie’s death, Building the Bridge:
He thought about it all day, how before Leslie came, he had been a nothing - a stupid, weird little kid who drew funny pictures and chased around a cow field trying to act big - trying to hide a whole mob of foolish little fears running riot inside his gut.
It was Leslie who had taken him from the cow pasture into Terabithia and turned him into a king. He had thought that was it. Wasn't king the best you could be? Now it occurred to him that perhaps Terabithia was like a castle where you came to be knighted. After you stayed for a while and grew strong you had to move on. For hadn't Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world - huge and terrible and beautiful and very fragile?
Now it was time for him to move out. She wasn't there, so he must go for both of them. It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength.
The next day after school, Jess went down and got the lumber he needed, carrying it a couple of boards at a time to the creek bank. He put the two longest pieces across at the narrow place upstream from the crab apple tree, and when he was sure they were as firm and even as he could make them, he began to nail on the crosspieces.
'Whatcha doing, Jess?' May Belle had followed him down again as he had guessed she might.
'It's a secret, May Belle.’
'I swear on the Bible I won't tell nobody. Not Billy Jean, not Joyce Ann, not Momma - ' She was jerking her head back and forth in solemn emphasis.
‘Oh, I don't know about Joyce Ann. You might want to tell Joyce Ann sometime.’
Tell Joyce Ann something that's a secret between you
and me?' The idea seemed to horrify her. Her face sagged. 'Joyce Ann ain't nothing but a baby.'
'Well, she wouldn't likely be a queen first off. You'd have to train her and stuff.’
'Queen? Who gets to be queen?'
'I'll explain it when I finish, OK?'
And when he finished, he put flowers in her hair and led her across the bridge, the great bridge, into Terabithia - which might look to someone with no magic in him like a few planks across a nearly dry gully.
'Shhh,’ he said. 'Look.’
'Can't you see 'um?' he whispered. 'All the Terabithians standing on tiptoe to see you.’
'Shhh, yes. There's a rumour going around that the beautiful girl arriving today might be the queen they've been waiting for.'
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, 1997 page 138-139, 140-141
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Three billy goats live on one side of a stream. They look at the grass on the other side of the stream and decide that it is greener. The only way to cross the stream is over a bridge, under which lives a troll. The three goats cross the bridge one at a time, from the smallest to the largest.