The London Bridge Story

London Bridge Business DevelopmentWhat a bridge teaches us about business?

The London Bridge story is one of the most inspirational business stories in modern history. While the full history dates back to Roman times around AD 50, the chapter which makes it really interesting from a business point of view begins on August 1st 1831 when the 600 year old London Bridge retired and a more modern version – which still stands – was inaugurated with the attendance of King William IV and Queen Adelaide. Before we share what this bridge can teach us about business however, let’s see where you stand on spanning issue in the poll. Submit your vote and you’ll see what others thought about it. As you read more, you’ll get the correct answer as well.

How many?

As far as London Bridge goes, there are at least two. There is one in the UK and another in the US.  The one that is located in London City was built from 1962 to 1967 and connects the City of London and Southwark. The Victorian London Bridge – which is currently located in Lake Havasu City, Arizona – was built in London from 1824 to 1831 and spanned the River Thames for over hundred and forty years.

London Bridge across the Atlantic Ocean

In 1896, it was estimated that the London Bridge was the busiest point in London, with 8,000 people crossing the bridge on foot and 900 crossing in vehicles every hour. It was widened in 1902 in an attempt to combat London’s chronic traffic congestion but the widening work proved too much for the bridge’s foundations; it was subsequently discovered that the bridge was sinking an inch (about 2.5 cm) every eight years. It became apparent that this bridge would have to be removed and replaced with a more modern one.

In 1967, the Common Council of the City of London placed the bridge on the market and began to look for potential buyers. Council member Ivan Luckin had put forward the idea of selling the bridge, and recalled: “They all thought I was completely crazy when I suggested we should sell London Bridge when it needed replacing.” On 18 April 1968, the bridge was sold to Missouri entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for US$2,460,000. The claim that McCulloch believed mistakenly that he was buying the more impressive Tower Bridge was denied.  As the bridge was taken apart, each piece was numbered to aid re-assembly. The bridge was reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and re-dedicated on 10 October 1971. The reconstruction of the Victorian London Bridge spans the Bridgewater Channel canal that leads from Lake Havasu to Thomson Bay, and forms the centerpiece of a theme park in English style, complete with a Tudor period shopping mall. The London Bridge has become Arizona’s second-biggest tourist attraction, after the Grand Canyon.

The bridge was not reconstructed over a river, but rather it was rebuilt on land in a position between the main part of the city and Pittsburgh Point, at that time a peninsula jutting into Lake Havasu. Once completed, the Bridgewater Channel Canal was dredged under the bridge and flooded, separating Pittsburgh Point from the city, creating an island. The bridge thus now traverses a navigable shortcut between the Thompson Bay part of Lake Havasu south of Pittsburgh Point, and the remainder of Lake Havasu to the north.

The business of bridges

The story of the London Bridge signifies qualities that are critical in business. It tells us that sometimes even the most effective idea might seem truly crazy at the time of the initial presentation. It tells us that a big enough idea can put a very little place on the map if pursued. It tells us that the difference between a visionary leader and a dreamer is not the vision, it is the implementation. It tells us that how far we need to look beyond the actual scope of our project and it also says a lot about the  importance of branding and perception.

The story of the London Bridge is not only interesting but also educational. The people who implemented this incredible project represent many of the values we believe in and are highly important in business. We’ve found this story that spans across centuries and continents and one of the great success stories of Arizona so inspirational that we named our company London Bridge Business Development.

The lessons of London Bridge

You can read more of what the London Bridge(s) teach about business in the London Bridge archive.

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