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Millennium Bridge, London Overview

Officially called the London Millennium Footbridge and famously known as the ‘Wobbly Bridge’, the Millennium Bridge, located between Southwark Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge is for pedestrians to cross the River Thames. It is a steel suspension bridge, inaugurated in 2000, which is owned by Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust under the City of London Corporation. They are also in charge of its maintenance.

Any bridge along the River Thames requires an Act of Parliament. However, for the Millennium Bridge, the Port of London Authority sought license and permissions directly from the City of London and the London Borough of Southwark.

The bridge’s construction began in 1998 and was funded by the Millennium Commission along with the London Bridge Trust. With GBP 7 million coming in from the Millennium Commission, the bridge took GBP 18.2 million to complete. On its opening day on June 10, 2000, it was estimated to have been crossed by close to 90,000 people, with 2,000 people on the bridge at any given point in time.

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The Wobbly Bridge

During a charity event, the people on the bridge felt an unexpected swaying motion which made everyone uncomfortable that the bridge may crack and collapse. Even limiting the number of people on the bridge didn’t help with this issue. The bridge was closed for re-construction within 2 days of its opening to fix this wobbly motion.

There was a lot of criticism and backlash faced by the stakeholders in this project. It was later reported that the swaying was due to an unconscious human tendency to match footsteps to the sway, thus exaggerating the motion and leading the bridge to have a lateral sway.

Later in 2007, due to a risk for the pedestrians to be blown off the bridge due to strong winds during the Kyrill storm, the bridge was temporarily closed again.

Design of the Bridge

To lock the design of the bridge, a competition was held in 1996 by Southwark council and RIBA Competitions. The winners, Arup Group, Foster and Partners, and Sir Anthony Caro proposed a design resembling a “blade of light”, with 8 supporting cables below the deck.

The bridge is 11 metres (36 feet) high, and the aluminium deck on it at least 4 metres (13 feet) wide.

Fun Facts

- It is the 1st bridge to be built over the River Thames in a century;

- This turn of the century bridge is not the only “Millennium” bridge in the world, there are 6 of them in the United Kingdom alone, in Lancaster, Gateshead, Salford, Glasgow, York, and Stockton-on-Tees, and many others across the world;

- The Millennium Bridge connects many famous tourist attractions of London, with Tate-Modern just a 4-minute walk away, and the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre a 2-minute walk away;

- The barely 20 year old bridge has featured in many movies such as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Bollywood drama flick Namastey London;

- The Bridge was inaugrated by the Queen herself;

- The bridge took a total of GBP 18.2 million to get constructed, GBP 2.2 million more than the budget allocated
to it;

- The bridge is covered with around 400 pieces of art works by artist Ben Wilson, also called The Chewing Gum Man, as he uses acrylic paint on chewing gum which is stick between tracks on the bridge to make different kinds of shapes and scenes;

- The London Skyline looks spectacular from the bridge and is a great spot for photography.

How To Reach Millennium Bridge

Underground Stations: Blackfriars (4-minute walk), Southwark (9-minute walk), St. Paul's (8-minute walk), Cannon Street (8-minute walk).

Train: London Bridge station: 12-minute walk

Bus: 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 45, 63,100, 242, 381 and 344

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