Fire was another hazard of life on the bridge. The worst came in 1212 when sparks from a house fire at the Southwark end started another at the north end. Trapped in the middle, people jumped in desperation into waiting rescue boats, sinking many in the process. It’s thought that at least 3,000 people died.
As if that wasn’t enough, parts of the bridge collapsed on several occasions, including 1281, 1309, 1425 and 1437. The 1281 collapse happened when expanding ice from the frozen Thames literally crushed five of the arches. Queen Eleanor – unpopular at the best of times – was blamed for misappropriating bridge revenues and failing to use them for repairs. This gave rise to a rewrite of the popular rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”: the original was based on a Norse saga, but the addition of “my fair lady” was a clear dig at the Queen.
Now to the present in a country called America. Our bridges are in need of repair. Our roads are antiquated. When will they start falling down? I will predict soon.