The London Bridge Falling Down and Photographed

london bridge8The iconic London Bridge has been built and rebuilt many times, beginning in 1176 with the first construction of a stone bridge approximately 24 feet long. Changes and complete reconstructions were made in 1281, 1309, 1425, 1437, 1580s, 1762, and 1831, among many other important dates.

Between 1968 and 1971, the facing stone of the 1831 Bridge, designed by John Rennie, was dismantled and shipped to Arizona, where it was reconstructed in Lake Havasu City. A completely new London Bridge was built to replace the Rennie bridge, opening to the pubic in 1972.
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The Graphic Arts Collection is the fortunate new owner of a three volume set of albums (12 x 14 ½ inches) photographically documenting the dismantling and reconstruction of the 1972 London Bridge, now on deposit at Princeton University thanks to Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986.
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Prepared by the London construction firm of John Mawlem & Company, Ltd. and labeled “Chairman’s Copy,” presumably as a presentation set, the albums include a combination of commercial photographs and personal prints, some hand-labeled and each sequenced for these volumes in particular.
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There are approximately 200 black and white gelatin silver prints, each one annotated in the lower right hand corners and dated. In great detail they show every phase of the dismantling of the old 1830s bridge and the building of the new bridge in the same location. The excavation of the site reveled several skeletons, documented in these photographs.

These albums are now available for researchers.

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