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This day in history: London Bridge sold to Arizona for a million pounds

Posted at 6:17 pm, April 18, 2012 in News, Secret London
London Bridge (Cornell University Library)

Why is London Bridge in Arizona? Well it’s a funny story actually… 44 years ago today (18 April, 1968) London Bridge was sold to the Yanks for £1,029,000. But the bridge that now resides Stateside isn’t the original festering, flammable wooden structure  responsible for the deaths of 3,000 people in a day when it accidentally caught fire at both ends. Nor is it the repugnant exhibition centre where the tarred and severed heads of convicted traitors were displayed – it isn’t even the bridge immortalised in song by children the world over for its collapsibility.

The stone bridge in question was constructed in the early nineteenth century, and it was estimated that up to 8,000 people an hour crossed it on foot. Unfortunately, it was no less ill-fated than its predecessors, as it was soon noticed the bridge was sinking about an inch every eight years. By 1967, with the bridge now at a sizeable incline, the Common Council of the City of London placed the bridge on the market. Enter Robert P. McChulloc, paddle poised and bidding to the tune of  $2,460,000. On McChulloc’s orders, London Bridge was dismantled piece by piece and reconstructed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona to form the centrepiece of an ‘English’ theme park, complete with Tudor period shopping mall. These days, London Bridge is Arizona’s second-biggest tourist attraction after the Grand Canyon – thankfully, it’s showing no signs of falling down.  Didi Mae Hand

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