London Bridge was first built in 1209. It stood for centuries, but then started slowly sinking into
the river. That is why, in the 19th century, the British Parliament chose a committee to examine
the condition of the bridge. Bridge engineers had many ideas and finally the decision was made
to build a new, stone bridge in place of the old one. The stone bridge was good enough for
horse carriages, but in the 20th century, when cars and buses crossed it day and night,
the bridge started sinking again. So in the 1960s, the Bridge Committee of London agreed
to replace the bridge once more. When the decision was made, Archie Galloway, who was
employed by the city council, had the idea of selling the old one. He advertised it for sale in the
UK and USA. He was sure someone would be interested in buying it.
Robert McCulloch, an American millionaire who owned a lot of land near Lake Havasu
in Arizona, saw the advert on TV while on business in London. McCulloch had a dream
to change Lake Havasu, which was located in the middle of the desert, into a busy city.
To encourage people to come and live there he needed some good advertising. Buying the
bridge seemed the perfect solution.
At first, people thought it was a joke. The idea seemed absolutely crazy because, at that time,
Lake Havasu didn’t have running water or electricity. There wasn’t even a river nearby,
just the lake.
When McCulloch bought the bridge, the English began to take it apart. Fortunately, he didn’t
have to pay extra for this and transport to the USA was also included in the price. First, a group
of special workers numbered each of the bridge’s stones to show their position.
Then, the bridge was taken apart, packed and sent to the port in London. After the bridge
arrived in California, trucks carried it to Lake Havasu. Because McCulloch knew that it would
be a challenge to transport this valuable cargo from England to the USA, he employed
a few experts to manage the whole operation.
Rebuilding the bridge was like putting a puzzle together. Sometimes, if an original stone got
damaged, it had to be exchanged for a local one. But rocks in the area were a different colour,
so those stones had to be painted. When the bridge was completed, the sand was taken from
below it to create a canal and make way for water. This meant London Bridge could stand over
a waterway again.
On 10th October 1971 London Bridge in Lake Havasu City opened. The British and US flags
flew on both sides.
adapted from www.bbc.co.uk/news