Bevis's Travels

London Bridge, Arizona


When my Mini broke down on London Bridge in 1962 I could not have imagined that I would be driving over the same bridge again in a small desert town in Arizona 43 years later.

When it was decided that London Bridge would be replaced by a new one in 1967 an American oil baron named Robert McCulloch expressed an interest in buying it. The story goes that he thought he would be getting the more spectacular Tower Bridge, but that has been denied by all the people actually involved.

Mr.McCulloch had founded a city in the Arizona desert called Lake Havasu, and he thought the bridge would be a tourist attraction. In effect the site of the bridge is across the end of a lake, connected to a canal. The old bridge was not shipped lock, stock and barrel to Arizona. The Lake Havasu bridge is actually a new reinforced concrete structure, entirely clad in stone from the old one. It looks just like the old one, excepting that it is much cleaner than I remember it being in London, and probably looks more as it did when it was originally opened in 1831.

In the area around the bridge there are the usual British icons, a double decker bus, telephone kiosk, pillar box etc. The view through the arches of the bridge is actually very attractive, to my mind rather better than it was in London. From what I had read I was under the impression that the bridge just stood on its own in the desert, but in fact it is an important part of the road network in Lake Havasu and used by people in the course of their everyday lives. I drove over the bridge in both directions, but I could not identify the place where I broke down in 1962 because it was not possible to tell which way round the bridge was in London.