This theory was all well and good, until fifteen years ago, a linguistics professor challenged these theories and proposed his own, that the name derives from the pre-Celtic 'plowonida', which roughly means "a river too wide to ford". He believed that the part of Thames at London was given this name, and later, when a settlement was established, the suffix -on or -onjon was added to the name for the settlement. In these days, the letter 'P' was regularly lost in pronunciation, leading to it changing from 'Plowonidonjon' to 'Lundonjon'. This was then shortened to 'Lundein' or 'Lundyn', latinised to 'Londinium', borrowed by the Anglo-Saxons as 'Lundene', and now finally, London. A city spreading long both sides of the banks of a river we can now cross!
Growing up in the North East, seeing what is left of the great steel industry and the mark it left on the world, it's no wonder I have an interest in bridges! Teesside steel created international icons, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Tyne Bridge, seen world wide on Newcastle Brown ale bottles (or not seen, depending on how many bottles are consumed prior to attempted bottle viewing). Not only do bridges make physical connections, enabling us to do and see so much, but visually, they can make a city what it is. What would New York look like without Brooklyn Bridge, Sydney without the Harbour Bridge or London without Tower Bridge?
...speaking of which... Tower Bridge is the most iconic and famous of the bridges in London, but it's not the bridge that stands out to me. Something has always pulled my interest towards London bridge, and that is that 'London Bridge' is not really the London bridge people expect!
"How come every time you come around,
My London London Bridge wanna go down?
Like London London London wanna go down,
Like London London London be going down like..."
(Thanks to SkidVid for the video)
Firstly, I must appreciate her excitement; she's so excited about the prospect of seeing London Bridge that her grammar has become that of a child and she appears to have developed a stutter. I can relate to this level of excitement when thinking about bridges! In the video, we see her dancing around London, doing what I can only imagine to be a thorough search for this illusive 'London Bridge' that she sings about. But, when in the last part of the video she finds it, she is in fact circling Tower Bridge on a speed boat. Oh dear!
London Bridge is quite misunderstood. It's a very sleek, simple and modest looking bridge, perfect in it's design, yet still a disappointment to the hoards of tourists that get off the Underground at the 'London Bridge' stop, and surface to the lack of towers. I can only imagine how this would be for the bridge if it had feelings. Imagine being Paris Hilton, but not the Paris Hilton; someone that shares her name. You have your name on a club's guest list, but no matter how you look, dance, behave/misbehave, you will still be a disappointment to the club's staff when you walk through the door, as you're not the Paris Hilton.
This crossing has a dark side, being the point of the oldest crossing, London Bridge has always been at the heart of London, with many people crossing. In the 1300s, pedestrians would have to view the heads of traitors on the bridge as a deterrent. From the 1300-1700s 15% of London's population was wiped out by the Black Death, with the bridge always in the centre and densely populated with pedestrians. But it's not all bad, in 1722 it was found that with such a large amount of people using the bridge it was difficult to enforce the toll. It was decided to split the bridge into two directions, everyone keeping to the left, this has since spread across the entire country, and then onto other countries we colonised.
Walking out of 'London Bridge' station at night, there was a slight breeze, yet a stillness in the city. We walked along the streets until we found the bridge. Not looking for towers reaching into the sky, I was filled with an anxious excitement when I stepped out from the urban jungle of building upon building that lead up to the river bank of the Thames. Feeling exposed we stepped out. I watched my feet tread over what I know was a hollow structure, and what I hoped to be my destination at the end of this short journey. We located the hatch and stood aside from it, watching traffic, people, the river below, and indeed life go by. Looking out from a bridge, along the banks, at a city, gives you perspective. To be drawn out of the labyrinth of tall buildings, and to simply enjoy the lights of the city by night. This perspective, as enjoyable as it was, wasn't what we were looking for, we waited patiently until there was a gap in road and pavement traffic, and this is when we went for it. We opened the hatch, scuttled down into the underbelly of the bridge, and back into the stillness of what can only be described as what felt like being underground.
Once inside, it was easy to forget that we were in a tunnel essentially hanging from the underside of one of the busiest bridges along the Thames. It felt submerged and completely secluded. The only reminder being the odd gantry cutting across the bridge, linking all the tunnels spanning along the length of the bridge.