This sensational slice of ham and song was made in 1972 to celebrate the purchase of London Bridge by an American theme park. It features a bizarre cast that includes Tom Jones, Rudolf Nureyev, The Carpenters, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston and Terry-Thomas and is basically the film the Olympic opening ceremony could have been.
It’s all here, but watch the intro especially, featuring Tom Jones singing his way round various London landmarks before engaging in a small slice of double entendre on a No 13 bus.
Last week, I looked at where parts of Old London Bridge had ended up after the medieval bridge was demolished in the 1830s. But the story does not end there.
The new London Bridge, built by John Rennie, only lasted 140 years before it too was replaced, rendered obselete by the invention of the motor car. Rennie’s bridge was, famously and rather brilliantly, sold to Americans and moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it has become a tourist attraction.
The story that the Americans thought they were really buying Tower Bridge is almost certainly apocryphal. The bridge in Arizona was opened by the Lord Mayor of London at a banquet at which the master of ceremonies was Bonanza’s Lorne Greene.
Then they made a film about the bridge starring Greene, Tom Jones, Kirk Douglas, The Carpenters, Charlton Heston, Rudolf Nureyev, Terry-Thomas and Engelbert Humperdink. It was called The Special London Bridge Special and here it is in full.
But although the Americans paid £1 million for the bridge, they didn’t get the lot and a small selection of bits and bobs were left behind.
Some of the oddest remnants of the bridge can be found in Kew Gardens, where four granite blocks from the bridge are used as a feeding platform for waterfowl. Further granite blocks can be seen outside the Mudlark pub on Montigue Close, SE1, where they were placed to mark the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and there are two more on the pavement nearby, at the southern end of the Rennie bridge.
And there’s more. On the previous post, London Remembers reports ‘there’s a piece of granite behind the Duke of Wellington statue at Bank, commemorating his involvement with the London Bridge Approaches Act 1827.’
Other remaining bits of bridge are an abutment and arch at Tooley Street and the outer wall of the river steps up to the old bridge on the north bank. Finally, under the first arch of the new bridge on the north side hang four City of London lamps, which are also believed to have originally come from the Rennie bridge.