Blackfriars Bridge, London


Blackfriars Bridge, London inauspicious beginnings in 1769 offered no inkling to the drama that would take place there two centuries later. In the 18th century, it was the first bridge to cross the River Thames in London's Blackfriars precinct. Officially named William Pitt Bridge, locals soon began to refer to it as Blackfriars Bridge because of its location. The original bridge, plagued with disrepair, was scrapped, and a new bridge was erected in its place in 1886. Designed by Thomas Cubitt, the new bridge featured a 923-foot span of five wrought iron arches.Blackfriars Bridge River Thames London England

The rapid 19th-century growth of London and its surrounding areas forced the bridge to be widened by 35 feet, re-opening in 1910 with a new width of 105 feet. Today, more than 54,000 vehicles and thousands of bicyclists cross the bridge daily.

The bridge's notoriety is a result of its more recent history. On the morning of June 18, 1982, "God's Banker," Robert Calvi, was found hanging from one of the wrought iron spans of Blackfriars Bridge. His pockets held more than $14,000 and five bricks. Calvi was the former chairman of Italy's largest bank, Banco Ambrosiano, a bank whose major shareholder was the Vatican. The bank went bankrupt just before Calvi's death; he had been on the lam for a week, owing large sums of money to the Mafia and trying to escape the bank scandal. His death was originally ruled a suicide, but forensic evidence examined in 2002 pointed to a Mafia-ordered homicide. Five Mafia members were acquitted of the murder in 2007, but the drama visited on the historic bridge continues to fuel rumors and speculation.

Today, Blackfriars Bridge is featured in a variety of literary works, films and songs. The Pet Shop Boys refer to the bridge in their song, “The Resurrectionist.” The bridge is destroyed in the movie “The Avengers,” and it is the scene for part of “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare. The movie, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," pays homage to Roberto Calvi in a scene in which Heath Ledger's character is hanged from Blackfriars Bridge.

For visitors to London, there are plenty of things to see and do at the north end of the bridge. Restaurants and nightclubs operate in boats permanently anchored at the site. Nearby attractions include Inns of Court, St. Paul's Cathedral and Temple Church. Oxo Tower, Southwark Cathedral and Tate Modern are near the south entrance to the bridge. Directly to the bridge's east is the largest solar installation in England atop the Blackfriars Railway Bridge. The railway bridge serves as the Blackfriars rail station.



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