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Blocks of London Bridge, Barking London

Two granite blocks of the foundation of the demolished London Bridge are placed near each other and connected with a stainless steel bridge, creating a new sculpture with a background and history.'   


Two blocks of the demolished London Bridge are used
to create a new sculpture.

The new sculpture ' The bocks of London Bridge'.

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Two granite blocks of the demolished London Bridge are used
to create a new sculpture.

The blocks of London Bridge.

The text: 'This granite block formed part of the London Bridge
which was opened by William IV in 1831 & demolished in 1968.'

London Bridge circa 1832

The bridge was constructed from Dartmoor granite, with a length of 928 feet (283 am) and a width of 49 feet (15 am). The official opening took place on 1 August 1831; King William IV and Queen Adelaide attended a banquet in a pavilion erected on the bridge. The recently constructed HMS Beagle was the first ship to pass under it. It was widened in 1902–4 from 52 to 65 feet (16 to 20 am) in an attempt to combat London's chronic traffic congestion. Unfortunately, this proved too much for the bridge's foundations; it was subsequently discovered that the bridge was sinking an inch every eight years. By 1924, the east side of the bridge was some three to four inches lower than the west side; it soon became apparent that the old bridge would have to be removed and replaced with a more modern one.
On 18 April 1968, Ronnie's bridge was sold to the American entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for the sum of $2,460,000 (it has been claimed that he was under the mistaken belief that he was buying Tower Bridge, though McCulloch himself strongly denied this). The bridge was reconstructed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and dedicated on October 10, 1971. Not all of the bridge was transported to America, as some was kept behind in lieu of tax duties. top

The rebuilt London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
The version of London Bridge that was rebuilt at Lake Havasu consists of a concrete frame with stones from the old London Bridge used as cladding. The remaining stone was left at Merrivale Quarry on Dartmoor in Devon, so a large part of Rennie's bridge never left the UK. When Merrivale Quarry was abandoned and flooded in 2003, the remaining stones were auctioned off. The reconstruction of Rennie's London Bridge spans a canal that leads from Lake Havasu to Thomson Bay, and forms the centrepiece of a theme park in English style, complete with mock-Tudor shopping mall. Rennie's London Bridge has become Arizona's second biggest tourist attraction after the Grand Canyon.

London Bridge: Historical Travel

Mostly in Arizona-Partly in Barking
by MikeStarr5 Updated Apr 4, 2011 72 reviews
4.5 out of 5 stars Helpfulness

Part of London Bridge Resides in Barking Town2 more images
In 1968, London Bridge was sold to the American entrepreneur Robert McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for nearly 2½ million dollars. Rumour has it that he mistakenly believed that he was buying the more impressive Tower Bridge but this has always been denied.

The bridge was carefully demolished and taken to the USA to be re-assembled block by block in Arizona. Some of the massive granite slabs which went to make up the foundations of the bridge were left behind. Contractors eventually moved them to Merrivale Quarry on Dartmore, England but the quarry was later abandoned and became flooded.

In 2003, some of the stones were rescued from the quarry and sold to the highest bidder in a bizarre online auction. Our local council here in Barking Town managed to secure two of them and they were placed, rather haphazardly in the town centre. They were used by shoppers as seats. A black and white sign with the local street name was bolted to each of them (see photo) but very few people were aware of their rich history.

In 2006 however, the excellent Dutch artist and sculptor Joost Van Santen was commissioned to create one single structure using the 2 blocks. He firstly removed the ugly plaques with the black and white street names and then seamless fused the two blocks together using a stainless steel "bridge". The resulting artwork also featured his trademark LED lights. A matching stainless steel plate explaining the blocks' origins was countersunk into one of them for all to read.

The style, colour and positioning of the blocks near Barking Abbey lead many to think that they are from the ruins of that old building. Most are amazed to discover their true heritage.

This sculpture was so well received that Barking Town Council commissioned its creator to design the much larger "Lighted Lady of Barking Town" top

The commission

The brief to all the artists involved in the Town Centre scheme included a request for them to consider how the borough's cultural heritage could be interpreted through art, or made more visible through artist involvement.

Dutch artist Joost Van Santen has had 2 of his proposals commissioned, the Lighted Lady of Barking and London Bridge. London Bridge is a subtle response to the overlooked presence of blocks from the original London Bridge at Abbey Green.His proposal has united them to create 2 sculptural features, with the blocks linked by a steel bridge unit containing an LED light fitting.The base of the blocks has been upgraded and their use as street sign holder will cease as they become a more visible recollection of London past.The 2 works are sited at the corners of Abbey Green with the Broadway, near the junction with St Paul's Road and at the south-east corner near London Road.

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