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Millennium Bridge (part one)
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Following its dramatic opening and embarrassing closure in 2000, the Millenium Bridge has become one of London's best known bridges and is now one of its most popular film locations. Less well-known is the fact that there had been plans for a road bridge at this spot 150 years earlier. The first proposal for a bridge here was put forward in 1853, and ten years later there were discussions about a pedestrian bridge at the same location. Nothing more was heard of the idea until 1909, when a more serious proposal was put forward to build a bridge that would relieve the congestion on London and Blackfriars Bridegs and provide a new major route through central London. The cost, estimated at nearly 2 million pounds, would be borne by the Bridge House Estates, though the London County Council was willing to contribute if the bridge could be built to carry trams, thus linking the systems north and south of the river. The debate over such a bridge, which was known as the St Paul's Bridge, was to continue for over twenty years before it was finally abandoned. The main concerns were about the quality of the bridge design, about its close proximity to St Paul's Cathedral and the potential damage a busy road would cause to its fabric. In 1911 the City succeeded in getting the legislation for the bridge through Parliament and managed to raise the finance, and a competition was held, attracting a number of grand monumental schemes. With the outbreak of the First World War the plans had to be shelved, but in 1921 the project was resurrected, though less money was now available.

Millennium Bridge (part one)

The Millennium Bridge, with St Paul's Cathedral in the background.

By now the future of the proposal was closely linked to the scheme for a new road bridge at Charing Cross. Most professional opinion was in favour of building a bridge at Charing Cross as a better way of relieving the congestion in central London, and the St Paul's Bridge fell out of favour, though the City continued to lobby for it. The matter was considered, as part of a wider overview of the subject, by the Royal Commision on Cross-River Traffic in London in 1926. In its report, the Commission recommended that the St Paul's Bridge scheme be abandoned, though even then the City would not drop the plan, and in 1928 it put forward a new proposal for a northern approach route further away from the cathedral. In 1931, partly owing to financial constraints, the scheme was finally dropped.

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