Building bridges in Britain

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Monday, 26 May 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • The first London Bridge was constructed by the Romans around the year 60 AD. Since then there have been at least five versions of the bridge.
  • In 1971, London Bridge was purchased by an American, and shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to be displayed as a tourist attraction. Word has it that the purchaser thought he was actually buying Tower Bridge.
  • The road span of London's Tower Bridge is in two sections, each hinged at one end. They can be lifted up like a drawbridge to let ships through. Even though each section weighs 1,120 tonnes, the hydraulic machinery can raise them in four minutes.
  • London owes its existence to a ford that apparently still exists beneath the Thames mud opposite the Houses of Parliament.
  • Since Roman times London has sunk 4.5 metres, a reaction to the end of the ice age 25,000 years ago that weighed down much of Britain under ice. Northern Britain is "springing back up" after being covered in ice, whereas southern England is sinking to counteract the north.
  • The largest prehistoric monument in England is not Stonehenge but the Avebury Circles nearby. Most of the village of Avebury lies within the circle of stones, which dates back to 1800 BC.
  • Built over a period of centuries, from around 2800 BC to 1550 BC, England's Stonehenge was designed to align exactly with the sun's rays on 21 June. Stonehenge is the most famous stone circle, or megalith, in existence.
  • Buckingham Palace has over 600 rooms.
  • Big Ben's clock's pendulum is 390 cm long and weighs 310.5 kg. It is regulated by the use of pre-decimal one penny coins on the pendulum.
  • Midnight chimes of Big Ben are broadcast throughout the UK to mark the start of the New Year.
  • A six-metre tall replica of Big Ben known as "Little Ben" stands close to London's Victoria Station.
  • Big Ben was slowed down five minutes one day when a passing flock of starlings took a rest on the minute hand of the clock.
  • The clapper bridges of southwest England are thought to be the oldest bridges in the world that are still standing but it is not possible to date them exactly. The oldest datable bridge was built nearly 3,000 years ago, across the River Meles in Turkey.
  • The suspension towers at opposite ends of the Humber Bridge in England are 4 cm further apart at the top than the bottom to allow for the curving surface of the Earth.

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