Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Millennium Bridge in London

Millenium Bridge, view from Tate Modern with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background.

This photo of the Millennium Bridge in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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The Millennium Bridge in London was the first bridge to be built across the Thames in London since the construction of Tower Bridge in 1894. It is a footbridge that links the Tate Modern on the south side to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the north (Free entrance with the London Pass). The Millennium Bridge opened in 2000 (hence the name) by the Queen, and then promptly shut 2 days later as the huge numbers of people crossing over it (90,000 on day one) generated a noticeable swaying motion that some found disturbing. Whilst within safety limits, it was decided to close the bridge for alterations.

Thus the Millennium Bridge (then also known as the Wobbly Bridge) remained closed for 8 months while dampeners were installed below the decks of the bridge and between the piers. Fortunately this solution has not affected the overall design and look of Millennium Bridge which forms an elegant span over the Thames.

The Millennium Bridge is 320m long structure, designed by Sir Norman Foster with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and the engineers Arup. The concept was to create a ‘Ribbon of Steel’ or ‘Shaft of Light’ across the Thames. It is a very shallow suspension bridge with clear views along the Thames. You can stand under the Millennium Bridge on the north side and hear the impact of the footfalls being transmitted through the cables. The deck is about 4m wide and supported by 8 cables and is about 11m above the river at high tide. Millennium Bridge cost £18m to build and a further £5m to alter making the total project some £7m over budget.

Millennium Bridge is ‘Y’ shaped, the single entrance to the Bridge from St. Paul’s branches out to two platforms near to the Tate Modern. I have once noticed that in a fine drizzle a static effect built up on the bridge which resulted in fine hair gradually standing on end as people crossed over. So while the wobble may have been removed from Millennium Bridge, it may still have other surprises in store. The nature of the decking also generates it’s own hum when buggies are being pushed over.

In spite of the original problems, the Millennium Bridge is now an established and popular landmark in London. It is hard to now imagine the city without it linking two of the great attractions in the city and providing panoramic views up and down the Thames from the centre.

Nearby attractions to the Millennium Bridge include St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Vinolopis and The Monument (Free entrance to all these with the London Pass) among others. The nearest tube stations are St. Paul’s, Southwark, Blackfirars, Mansion House and Cannon Street.

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The full panoramic image taken from the centre of the Millennium Bridge can be found on the London tour by PanoramicEarth.com. An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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