There is no more identifiable piece of architecture in Lake Havasu City than the London Bridge. The bridge’s rich history and unprecedented adventure from London to Havasu makes the London Bridge one of the top tourist attractions in Arizona. With something so unique and odd in a place it was never meant to be, the bridge’s history has been written about and documented since its arrival to the Grand Canyon state. While there maybe be an abundance of facts about the London Bridge, there are still some that go unspoken in a typical conversation about the bridge that made Lake Havasu City.
The London Bridge is hollow
When Robert McCulloch brought the bridge to Havasu from London, he only brought the outside of the bridge because the granite it was originally made out of was massive.
McCulloch built a concrete structure in the shape of the London Bridge and used the outside of the bridge to complete the structure in Havasu.
The hollowed out part of the bridge is used to carry gas and waterlines to the island from the mainland McCulloch left the inside pieces of granite in London.
The London Bridge has rent free tenants
Since the London Bridge is hollow, it makes the perfect living situation for bats. More than a few bats occupy the interior of the bridge and have been known to join workers doing maintenance on the interior of the bridge.
Hundreds of birds also make their homes in the nooks and crannies under the bridge using materials found on the Bridgewater Channel and surrounding areas.
It gets spooky on the London Bridge
There have been reports of the supernatural sightings at the London Bridge. Some say they have seen a woman roaming around or a Bobby — a British police officer — patrolling the bridge at night among other reports.
While they are just rumors, for a structure with so much history from another lifetime it wouldn’t be surprising if there was some spirits attached to the London Bridge.
The old vintage lamps on the London Bridge were once cannons
The vintage lamps which line the walkways of the London Bridge were once cannons used by the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of Waterloo in what is now present-day Belgium.
The cannons were brought to England after the English and Prussians armies defeated the French. Iron was needed for the lamp posts, and being the recyclists the British didn’t know they were, the canons were melted down and used to illuminate the bridge at night.
The London Bridge in Music
The London Bridge has been featured by many artist in songs since its arrival in Arizona.
In 1969 a band called “Bread” recorded a song called “London Bridge”. The song reflected lead singer David Gate’s belief that “nothing is sacred anymore” following his discovery the bridge was bought and relocated to Arizona.
In a 1970, Jimmy Webb had a song called “P.F. Sloan.” Webb refers to the London Bridge when he sings “The London Bridge was finally found, they moved it to another town, and now all the people gather ‘round to watch the bridge fall down, but I don’t think it will no more.”
The London Bridge in Film
The London Bridge also has been featured or mentioned on the big screen over the years, mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In the 1983 horror film “Olivia”, the lead character is a man who was the architect responsible for relocating the bridge from London to Havasu.
The bridge physically appears in the TV movie “Terror at London Bridge” starring David Hasselhoff in the ghost of Jack the Ripper haunts the town of Havasu after the London Bridge has wrapped construction.
The bridge also physically appears in the 1987 film “Million Dollar Mystery”. The film is about a disgruntled White House aid who takes off with $4 million of the government’s money. He hides the million in four different locations. One of the locations is a bridge and the London Bridge is shown as a potential hiding spot for the money.
The London Bridge on your feet
In January 2018, Concepts and New Balance in collaboration with its UK division gave our shout out to the London Bridge by releasing a shoe to celebrate its history.
Using the New Balance 991.5 shoe, the company splashed it with an aqua/teal color and a yellow heel cap on the white sole to finish the look. The shoe was released in granite-themed special edition shoe box to depict the type of material the London Bridge was made out of.
The shoe was released on January 19 for the price of $250 and sold out fast.
It’s not the original London Bridge
While this maybe one of the most well know facts about the London Bridge it is also a common misconception.
Prior to 1209, their were multiple bridges built by the Romans and in the medieval periods primarily made out of wood.
The “old” London Bridge was built in 1209 and stood over the River Thames in London for over 600 years. That bridge held houses, shops and taverns as it was able to support the bustling little community with its stone-built structure.
The “new” London Bridge followed and is the one that resides in Lake Havasu City.
The London Bridge once was really falling down
Contrary to popular belief, the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” does not come from the bridge that now calls Havasu home.
In fact, it comes from the very first London Bridge which was a wooden pontoon bridge built by the Romans to cross over into what is now present-day London. In 1014, the Saxons and Vikings led by King Olaf tried to attack London but were held off by defenders throwing rocks, garbage and hot oil on the ships as they approached the bridge. In retaliation, King Olaf and his men rowed up to the bridge, attached ropes to it and rowed off pulling the bridge down becoming the original origin of the song.
However, in 1825 when the new London Bridge was built — the one that resides in Havasu now — its heavy granite material was already sinking in the soft soil of the River Thames in London. By the time of its completion, the bridge had already sunk by a foot on one end and continued to sink by an inch every eight years.
Anyone who knows anything about the London Bridge in Havasu knows McCulloch had the granite bricks brought to Arizona from London numbered specifically to put the bridge back together exactly how it was.
The first number indicated which arch it belonged to, the second noted the row of stones and the the last two numbers told the position of the specific row.
However when the London Bridge was being reconstructed it was discovered there were other numbers used as code from when it was originally built. This indicated the bridges original designer, John Rennie, had the same idea as McCulloch a hundred years earlier.
The London Bridge was John Rennie’s last design
The London Bridge was originally supposed to be built as a bridge with one arch spanning 600 feet across the River Thames in London.
However, the construction would have required other properties of value surrounding the river to be destroyed.
So in came John Rennie, who designed a bridge with five arches that proved to be more practical.
Rennie’s design was carried out by his sons and was not constructed until after he died in 1821 — construction of the London Bridge did not start until 1824.
How it got to Lake Havasu City
After McCulloch placed the winning bid of $2.46 million for the London Bridge, he spent another $7 million to bring it to Havasu.
The bridge traveled by boat from London 10,000 miles to Long Beach, California where it was then trucked to Havasu.
It took three years to get all the pieces half way around the world to Havasu.
How it was built
The London Bridge was reconstructed by tearing a page out of the Egyptians book on how they built the pyramids.
Mounds of sand were created to outline the original construction of the arches. As the arches were finished, the sand mounds would be removed.
To place the bridge and create what is now the Bridgewater Channel, 2 million cubic yards of earth were moved, 10,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured over nearly 2 million pounds of structured steel and three miles of wire provided power and light during the reconstruction of the bridge according to the Lake Havasu City Visitors Center.
The London Bridge in Lake Havasu is exactly the same size it was in London. It runs 930 feet over the Bridgewater Channel with the same five arches it was originally constructed with.
The largest arch is in the center and it is 150 feet.
The London Bridge is a big part of Lake Havasu City’s success.
When McCulloch was given the land that is now Lake Havasu City, he needed something to attract people to buy property in an area in the middle of a hot desert far from any populated areas.
When he got word the City of London was selling the London Bridge, McCulloch found the idea of buying a bridge halfway across the world, shipping and reconstructing it in Arizona silly.
However, the gamble paid off as the grand opening attracted close to 50,000 people and was one of the selling points when coaxing people to buy property.
Now the London Bridge is the defining landmark of Havasu and there is no telling where this small part of Western Arizona would be today if it were not for the London Bridge.