March 2019. Part of my responsibilities as the Northern District Liaison for DAV in Arizona is to visit each of the seven chapters each year. In March, my travels took me to the beautiful Lake Havasu City area and DAV Chapter 27. Unlike the many people who visit the area to take part in recreational activities on Lake Havasu, we took time to visit another attraction in town--London Bridge.
London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England. It was dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 (along with a canal), and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City. (Wikipedia)
History of London Bridge
For nearly 2,000 years, a series of bridges has spanned the River Thames in London. The "Old" London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was a stone bridge built by Peter of Colechurch, an architect and priest, between 1176 and 1209. It replaced various wooden bridges built by the Roman founders of London from AD 50–1176.
One of the more grisly periods of the bridge's history was at the southern gateway between 1305 and 1660, when it was customary to display the severed heads of traitors, impaled on pikes and dipped in tar to preserve them against the elements.
The head of William Wallace was the first to appear on the gate. Other famous heads on pikes included those of Jack Cade in 1450, Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher in 1535, and Thomas Cromwell in 1540. A German visitor to London in 1598 counted over 30 heads on the bridge. The practice was finally stopped in 1660, following the Restoration of King Charles II.
By the end of the 18th century, the old London Bridge needed to be replaced. It fell into disrepair and blocked river traffic. Designed in 1799 by Scottish engineer John Rennie, the "New" London Bridge was completed in 1831.
The London Bridge Today
On October 20, 2018, Lake Havasu City celebrated the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the London Bridge. The celebration included the 690th Right Honourable Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Charles Bowman, and a proclamation by Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey. It closed with a traditional sheep crossing over the London Bridge, with sheep from the La Paz County/Colorado River Indian Tribe 4H Youth Program.
Today the historic and, some say, haunted bridge is the second-largest tourist draw in Arizona, topped only by the Grand Canyon. Attracting visitors from around the world, its many fans include photographers, filmmakers, travel writers, history buffs, boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders and music lovers at live concerts under its acoustical arches. (golakehavasu.com/london-bridge)
Along with the bridge itself is a small museum in the Visitor Center that tells of the history of the bridge and presents artifacts and commemorations of the bridge.
London Bridge is open for walking every day. The various shops have differing hours.
Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Center
422 English Village Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
90-minute walking tour (Nov-Apr)
Children (12 & under): Free
Group Size: Minimum 4, up to 24
Departure Times: 11 am