Howard's Endz

Howard’s Endz

 

Howard Spring brings us all his favourite walks in his salute to London Town, Howard’s endz!

The Millennium Footbridge

IMG_7486There is a place in London that always seems very happy. It is the place right in the middle of the London Millennium Footbridge … or Millennium Bridge as it is known to close friends.

The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge across the Thames running between St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern, two of Human’s favourite places.

The bridge was the first new bridge over the Thames in more than 100 years and the design was found through a 1996 competition. The winning design was described as “a blade of light” spanning the river between the two wonderful London landmarks.

But when the bridge was first opened in 2000 it kept wobbling in the breeze. It sounds like it was a bit like trying to walk along a hammock. That would have been a bit scary. So they closed it again for two years to try and make it a little less excitable in the breeze.

IMG_7492It is a great place to stop and look up and down the river. I especially like the pigeons. And they especially like that I can’t get close to them. And you can see all the boats, and all the people, and just how special London is. And the reason the view is so good is because they put a lot of the support below rather than above, so you feel like you are flying!

And so many people cross the bridge every day. But it has a limit of 5000 at any one time. I don’t think it has ever reached that number, but I might do a quick head count in busy times. I can basically count from 7 and then straight to many, so I can’t say the count will be accurate.

In fact, a lot of the wobbling in 2000 could have been the 10s of 1000s of people who lined up to cross the bridge on its opening day. Apparently when trying to walk across a wobbly bridge, humans start to match their steps to the sway, and end up swinging it even more. I think it is a bit like my Grand Auntie, who used to drive in the direction of whatever she was looking at (which turns out wasn’t always the road) when Grand Human was trying to teach her to drive. The experience was, by all reports, “terrifying”.

The bridge has lots of padlocks (for love and memories) and around 400 pieces of tiny art (you have to look closely), including the art of the Chewing Gum Man, who paints tiny masterpieces onto the chewing gum that inconsiderate people have dropped. The Chewing Gum Man turns the thoughtlessness of someone else into something worth thinking about.

Apparently bridges are often symbols of enlightenment and illumination. So I think that it is very appropriate that the Millennium Bridge is “a blade of light”. The middle of the bridge is one of the most special and strangely peaceful places in London, even with so many people around. Pause there. Look up and down the river. And you just feel happy.

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