The Millennium Bridge is the newest bridge to grace the River Thames since Tower Bridge was built back in 1894. Unlike many of the other bridges in London, it is a pedestrian only bridge, so no noisy traffic to contend with. Situated between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges, the Millennium Bridge is a suspension bridge design and was actually chosen from a competition which took place in 1996 by Southwark council. Unlike typical suspension bridges the strengthening cables are actually below the bridge, rather odd, but this was done to improve the view for pedestrians as they cross the bridge and also because of height restrictions. Altogether there are eight suspension cables which support the 108 metre bridge and they pull with enough force to enable 5000 people to cross the bridge simultaneously apparently, although I wouldn't like to volunteer for this! The bridge is a fabulous design and right in the heart of London, to the south is the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern, while to the north St Paul's Cathedral can be seen.
Building the bridge
The construction of the bridge began in 1998, but was not officially opened until June 2000, two months later than scheduled. Unfortunately, there were further complications, after two days the bridge has to be closed again. People using the bridge reported it to be swaying and very unsteady, making it extremely difficult to walk across; I can remember seeing the news coverage of this and seeing people very unbalanced as they tried to make their way over from one side to the other. However, the modifications made by builders to the bridge removed the exaggerated vibrations completely, meaning the bridge was once again opened for public use.
My experience of the bridge
Living fairly close to London I have been over the bridge on numerous occasions and when it first opened I thought it was great because there was no other bridge like it in the capital. Now however, the novelty has worn off a little and to me it's just another bridge, although foreign tourists still find it fascinating. In its defence it does offer some fantastic unrestricted views of London and it is good to cross the river on a bridge with no cars. I was staggered by the figure it took to complete the building of the bridge though and I think you will be too.......£18.2 million, that's £2.2 million over budget. I suppose it was always going to be expensive, but that does seem a bit steep to me, it's easy to see why people were so angry when it had to be closed after just two days because of structural problems!
Is it worth visiting?
If you're in London and fancy going over it then fine, otherwise I wouldn't bother, it's just another bridge really. On the plus side it is a tourist attraction and free to cross!
Thanks for reading, enjoy the bridge.
London is my town and, sitting down to write this opinion, I suddenly realise that I have always lived within, say, 20 or 30 minutes walking distance of the magnificent and historic River Thames, albeit, here in the London Borough of Bexley, there is no river crossing… Never mind. I grew up in Battersea – where we had three immediately available means of crossing the Thames: Battersea, Albert and Chelsea Bridges, all of which link Chelsea with Battersea, and which, as teenagers, my friends and I regularly used whilst mooching our way up town and back… In those days we youngsters took our bridges and river crossings very much for granted, though we were slightly in awe of Albert Bridge, a magnificent iron suspension bridge that is lit up at night, so that sometimes, if we were feeling particularly fanciful, our crossings were almost like walking through fairyland… Crossing the Millennium Bridge/Blade of Light during my lunch break on 9 May 2002, I felt my heart lift as the years fell away; I was again in awe of a bridge, - and still in love with the Thames. Coincidentally, although I did not know it at the time, this was two years to the day since the inauguration or dedication of the Blade of Light by the Queen… - We could call this symmetry, or coincidence, - but I blame fellow dooyooer ks.h, who gave me the idea of walking the Blade of Light when I read her opinion on the Gateshead Millennium Bridge the night before (?). [Only joking, Kathleen. It’s really just Lynn_Bex, - away with the fairies and being fanciful again!] ~~ The Blade of Light is a 350 metre pedestrian bridge connecting St Paul’s Cathedral, on the North bank of the Thames, with Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Side. It is also Central London’s first new river crossing for over a hundred years which, having been dedicated by the Queen on 9 May 2000, was opene
d to the public on 10 June 2000 – AND CLOSED THREE DAYS LATER, DUE TO A WORRYING SWAY THAT DEVELOPED WHEN VISITORS BEGAN TO CROSS EN MASSE… It seems that large numbers of people have a propensity to march in step, or at least synchronise their footfalls when moving in unison, thus causing suspension bridges and like structures to sway or “wobble”. This phenomenon had been recognised in the past, indeed Albert Bridge has warning notices prohibiting marching in step, but was seemingly overlooked by the designers of the Blade of Light. The cynics were delighted by this turn of events. The Millennium Dome had been ridiculed into abject failure [those of us who actually visited the Dome, and praised it, were ignored or sidelined.] The London Eye had teething troubles [though it has since proved to be an outstanding success] And now we had The Wobbly Bridge. “The Millennium Bug strikes again,” crowed the headlines over some rather comical pictures of people struggling across the Blade of Light… [Even Lynn_Bex had a quiet little snigger, on the basis that sometimes you just HAVE to laugh!] But the Blade of Light is fixed now. It re-opened to the public on 22 February 2002 and I think it is really rather wonderful:- A steel construction, the Bridge was designed by architects Foster and Partners, in collaboration with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and engineering company Arup, their successful design of a single sweeping arc being intended to appear as a thin ribbon of steel during the day, then, at night, when illuminated, as a blade of light across the river. Unlike earlier suspension bridges, (including the Albert Bridge) the Blade of Light is very shallow, and incorporates the very latest technology whereby, by means of “lateral suspension” there is no need for the usual supporting columns. Instead, there are eight supporting cables, a
nchored in concrete at each end of the bridge and supported at two points in the river, from which steel “arms” support the entire structure of the bridge. These “arms” look like wings to me and, as I rather like the idea of “flying across the Thames” I’d be grateful if dooyoo engineers would exercise restraint and NOT enlighten me as to the true meaning of “lateral suspension”! Following the embarrassing wobble, and resultant closure of the bridge, the Millennium Bridge Trust set about raising the estimated £5-million required for repairs, and when this target was reached in February 2001, remedial works and modifications were put in hand. The major modification was the installation of 91 dampers, similar to car shock absorbers and designed to reduce the movement of the lightweight bridge. “Walking” and “marching” tests were then undertaken by volunteers, with the results being analysed by engineering experts, until the experts were satisfied that the wobble had been cured and that the now rigid bridge could safely re-open to the public. My lunchtime investigation on 9 May 2002 was of necessity, somewhat brief… Working in London’s Covent Garden/Holborn area, it took me some twenty minutes to reach St Paul’s Cathedral where, as ever, masses of young tourists lounged on the famous steps – but, these days, whenever I look at those steps I think of the young Lady Diana Spencer going to her doom on that 1981 wedding day. From St Paul’s it was a short walk down Peter’s Hill – and there was the beautiful Blade of Light, leading across the river to Tate Modern (on the right) and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (on the left). There were lots of tourists when I was there, plus school groups and ordinary Londoners going about their business, so I joined the throng and crossed, pausing from time
to time to look up and down river at the sights, which include Tower Bridge in one direction and the Oxo Tower the other way. I strained my eyes for a glimpse of the London Eye but could not spot the structure, due to a bend in the river, though on a clear day I imagine that you would be able to see the highest capsules, (this was not important to me, as I can see the Eye whenever I glance out of the office window beside my desk, but it has become a point of reference to many Londoners, over the past couple of years.) Upon reaching the south bank of the Thames I just had time to nip inside Tate Modern (just to take a very quick look, so as to say that I’d been!) and then zoom along to Shakespeare’s Globe for a closer look at the impressive reproduction of the Bard’s original Theatre. Then, it was back over the Blade of Light towards St Pauls, always a magnificent sight, with just a little time to glance at the river traffic moving up and down the Thames. I will definitely be making this journey again, when I have much more time to properly appreciate the views – and hopefully enough time to take a guided tour of the Globe and, maybe, to investigate the modern art on display in Tate Modern. ~~ How to reach the Blade of Light:- By Rail - Blackfriars, Cannon Street and London Bridge Stations are all within walking distance. By Tube – To the north of the bridge, St Pauls, Mansion House, Cannon Street, and Blackfriars are probably the nearest stations. To the south, Southwark, Borough and London Bridge are nearest. By Bus – Bus travel is my favourite way of getting about within Central London and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to reaching the Blade of Light. To the north of the river, the following are some of the routes passing nearby: 4, 11, 15, 17, 23, 25, 26, 76, 100, and 172. To the south of the river, I recommend the brand new bus rou
te “Riverside 1” – bus number RV1. These eco-friendly state of the art single-deck buses have on board flat-screen information screens, which not only show passengers where they are, but provide a picture of the next stop. The service starts daily at 6.00 am and runs until midnight; from 7.00am (8.00am on Sundays) the buses run at a ten-minute frequency. The starting points at each end of the RV1’s route are Tower Bridge and Covent Garden. The bus drivers were all specially recruited and have undergone a thorough training programme, which included visits to all the main attractions along the route so they are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Well, it’s taken me two weeks to write this opinion. – I hope it was worth the wait! Lynn
I was in London a few weeks ago, and was lucky enough to get on the Millennium Bridge in the few days before it closed due to the 'unacceptable' amount the bridge moves when large numbers of people are on it. We were heading to the new Tate Modern gallery, and although I'm not usually keen on attractions that people queue for great lengths of time for, I'd been impressed by the bridge on the TV and decided to have a look. We got there quite early (around 10:30) and it wasn't too crowded - we only had to queue for about 10 minutes to get on. This was, I think the third day that the bridge had been open, and by this point, security guards were letting people onto the bridge in small groups of about 10 or so at a time as a safety measure to attempt to combat the movement of the bridge. The bridge itself is beautifully situated. Heading from north London to Tate Modern, we got the tube to St Pauls, walked around the cathedral and toward the bridge. The bridge is very visually impressive and the view across it to Tate Modern very pleasing indeed. We visited on a scorchingly hot day, but as we walked toward the centre of the bridge, a lovely cool breeze blew down the Thames, making it very relaxing on a summer day in the city. From the bridge, you can see down the Thames, St Pauls, Tate Modern and get a nice view of the Globe Theatre. Until we got to the centre of the bridge the infamous movement was not in evidence at all. As we passed the centre point, though a gentle swaying became noticeable. By the three quarter mark, walking on the bridge was reminiscent of being on the deck of a ship on a pretty windy day. Even at the end of the bridge, the swinging was considerable, and was put into context when you could see the hand rail swinging back and forth several inches towards objects firmly attached to dry land. I loved it. It seems a shame to me that the bridge was closed to stop it swaying - I'm sure this could be marketed as an
attraction. I felt completely safe - after all, most big bridges swing. I've seen the Humber bridge moving a lot more that the Millennium Bridge, and thousands of people are quite happy to drive over that..
When i went along the Millennium bridge i was a bit nervous but as excited as i wasn't sure what to expect after the reports that it swayed. But when i went over it, the Millennium bridge hardly swayed a millimetre. I was very impressed and when i heard that it was being closed for reparement work i couldn't believe. Why would something that modern be made unsafe. I would recommend (when it reopens) to see for yourself as it was a good experience. Don't listen to the people who claimed it unsafe, don't miss out on the oppurtunity of a great English experience
When this Bridge was opened and people said it was unsafe I though to myself. Why? I mean if it is so unsafe they wouldn't have made it like that. Now that it has been closed for a while I think it has all be blown out of proportion. When I saw it on the T.V I thought it looked very modern and some what spectacular. I also think that it is stupid that when the London Eye broke it wasn't closed for this long so why should the bridge be. I have been other the bridge and in my opinion it hardly swayed at all. I think people are making a big fuss about nothing.
The Millenium Bridge is awesome. It represents the cutting edge of bridge engineering. It’s innovative lateral suspension structure means that it can be both slender and strong. As elegant as Audrey Hepburn, yet strong - like Thai boxer. At night it looks the absolute nuts, however I will refrain from describing it as ‘a blade of light’, because that’s how that megalomaniac Foster describes it, and he’s a pompous blame-shifter. It is 330m long, joining St Pauls Cathedral to the Tate Modern, the view either way is spectacular. The 4m wide platform is suspended from eight 120mm steel cables each under a force of 2000 tonnes. Two Y-shaped piers support these cables. The bridge rises about 13 metres above the Thames. The project took one year to build. The bridge and the engineers have been in the press a lot recently, because of the unacceptably high lateral movement, produced by a combination of high winds and 100 000 people bouncing across it on the opening day. This does not dishearten me. This bridge is so innovative that there was always going to be the possibility of unforeseen glitches. Safety tests were lengthy and meticulous, even direct ship collisions with the pier were modelled. It was calculated that if the biggest boat on the Thames (the 2000 tonne ‘Tracey Bennet’) hit the pier at full steam the piers would only move 160mm sideways and of course would still support the platform. The problem is not a safety issue, but a comfort one. The problem is far from insurmountable, most likely the incorporation of dampers at the southerly end, where the longest span is, and from where the problem most likely stems. When this has been resolved, and the public forgets these initial teething problems, the Millennium Bridge will become as famous as the Tate Modern and St Pauls that it joins, as well as representing a golden landmark in British engineering.