Sell a BridgeSelling a bridge
1967 the City of London Commons Council ruled that enough was enough and the bridge had to be substituted. It was customary at that point to demolish and dispose of old buildings - a destiny that was likely for London Bridge. Come before Ivan Luckin - council member and former PR man - who first proposed selling the Old Bridge to Americans as a tourist attraction. Here's what he had to say.
Although at first he regarded it as a wacky concept, the council finally approved of offering the bridge for purchase. On 18 April 1968, the businessman Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil officially bought the bridge for 2,460,000 dollars (£1,029,000) at London City Hall. MacCulloch had the boulders of the bridge renumbered and shipped to America for another $7 million to rebuild them in Lake Havasu City (below), a proposed municipality he had founded in 1964 on the shores of Lake Havasu, Arizona.
The sale and investments of real estate have been stimulated by the reconstructed bridge, so McCulloch has conveniently reimbursed his expenses for it; it is now the second largest individual tourism destination in the state behind the Grand Canyon. Bridge - Did you know? London Bridge 1831 was sketched by John Rennie, who won the prize in a special architectural contest after the former bridge - which was over 600 years old at the time - was considered too small and dilapidated.
Rennie's Bridge was erected 100 ft westwards of the old Steinbrücke, which stayed in operation until the opening of the new building. It was 283 metres long and 15 metres broad, and it was made of Hay Tor at Dartmoor mill. Luckin's proposal to sell the bridge was regarded as stupid at first - and five weeks before the deadline for a sales, 28 March 1968, no bids had been made.
Then Luckin went to New York, where he built the bridge as an integrated part of London's story. Before they were taken apart, the single boulders of the bridge were taken to the Merrivale quarry, where they were cut to measure, shipped to the port of Houston, Texas, and then sent by train to Lake Havasu.
This reconstructed bridge, erected on the mainland, is not entirely genuine; the London transport of grain is used to cover a specially crafted precast construction. After the completion of the reconstructed bridge in 1971, the Bridgewater Channel Canal was excavated and submerged beneath it, forming an islet from a small half isle.
Despite what is commonly believed, McCulloch did not falsely think he would buy Tower Bridge. After being sold, he had himself photographed on London Bridge before it was dismantled, so that he knew exactly which bridge he had bought.