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LONDON BRIDGE, it will be found above, has five arches; they are what architects call semi-elliptic, and they are by far the largest of this description of arch ever previously erected. The middle arch has a span of 152 feet, and is 29 feet 6 inches above high water mark. The arches, on either side next to the centre arch, have each 140 feet span. The roadway is 53 feet wide between the parapets; and each of the footpaths occupy nine feet out of that quantity. The rise in the road is only 1 in 132. The bridge is all composed of granite, and there were 120,000 tons of that stone used in building it. To help the Corporation of London to defray the expense of building it, they are allowed, for 26 years, to charge a tax of 10d. per chaldron of 36 bushels, upon all coals enter
ing the port of London. It was opened by the King in person, on the 1st of August, 1831, with a very grand procession. It cost very nearly, with the ground and houses they were obliged to purchase for the approaches, two millions of pounds, or sixteen millions of rupees. Some of the piles of English oak, which were driven in in the year 1176, were taken up in 1832, and Sir Edward Banks, who was the contractor for building new London Bridge, finding them as sound as when they were first driven, had several pieces of handsome furniture, tables, &c., made from them, which are now in the possession of his son Delamarck Banks, Esq., of the Isle of Sheppy, who is now, in 1841, the High Sheriff of Kent. We ourselves have a box presented to us by Mr. Baldock, the receiver of Chatham Dock Yard, made from one of the piles, and which was given to him by Mr. D. Banks.
WESTMINSTER BRIDGE is built of huge masses of Portland stone; few of them weigh less than a ton, while many are two, three, four, and some as much as five, tons each. The span of the middle arch is seventy-six feet. The bridge, and its approaches, cost £387,500. Government paid the whole of this. £197,500 was raised by lotteries, and the remainder was voted by parliament. There is supposed to have been twice as much stone used in this bridge as in building St. Paul's Cathedral.
WATERLOO BRIDGE, which it will be seen, is the longest of the bridges, being one thousand three hundred and twenty-six feet long, was built by private individuals, but we know not the cost; it was thought that the toll of a penny for each person passing, and a small sum to be paid for each horse or carriage passing, would well repay the proprietors, but it has not done so; even this small payment has induced the crowd to pass over the bridges where there is nothing to pay. At this bridge there is an ingenious contrivance by means of a turning stile, which registers the number of individuals that pass the bridge, and it is a great protection to the company against any impropriety on the part of the toll gatherers, who are answerable for the money received from the public, and which must be equal to the registered number.
We have learnt that the proprietors have resolved to reduce the toll to a halfpenny, instead of a penny, which is paid at present.
SOUTHWARK BRIDGE has also a toll, and belongs to a private company; it consists of three very large arches of cast iron; the span of the centre arch is two hundred and forty feet, and of the side ones two hundred and ten feet; the lower part is of masonry. This bridge also, we hear, does not repay the proprietors for the capital advanced. During the years 1839 and 1840 there have been public meetings in London
to petition parliament to vote a sum of money to give to the proprietors of these bridges, and to throw them open to the public free of toll, or failing in that, to raise by subscription, or by a local tax upon some article, a sufficient sum for the purpose. It would be a great convenience if these bridges were free of toll; for London and Blackfriars bridge are, at certain times of the day, almost blocked up with carts, omnibuses, and other carriages, a great many of which would go over Southwark and Waterloo bridges, but for the payment of toll.
VAUXHALL BRIDGE was the first iron bridge erected over the Thames; it cost upwards of £300,000. We have thus described at length all the history of the bridges, as we were very much struck with their beauty and their magnificence. On a very dark night, to stand upon Southwark or Waterloo bridge, and to look on both sides at the beautifully lighted up bridges, is a grand sight. And upon a fine summer's morning, to stand upon the centre of either of them to behold the glorious sun rise, and to see the gilding of the top of St. Paul's, and of the numerous high buildings that are visible from hence, is a sight that has been witnessed by few perhaps of the inhabitants of London, except those whose occupations require them to be up at that early hour. But we would advise those who wish to see London to advantage, to rise at four o'clock some summer's morning, and they will see a beautiful view, there being then scarcely any smoke; and the great luminary of light will beam upon and illuminate every thing, and it will kindle in the human heart feelings of thanksgiving and praise to the great author of the universe. We could not refrain from asking ourselves where all the money could come from to build these bridges, and we were wondering what number of people London, and indeed, if it could be ascertained, all England, consisted of, to raise these immense sums. We therefore asked of a friend, if he could guess the number of living beings in England. He told us, that from 1801 parliament had directed every ten years an account of the population to be taken in every parish in England, Scotland, and Wales, by competent persons, and that they made a return of the same, which parliament printed, with their ages, and whether males or females, also the number of houses; and we find that the following are the numbers given for England and Wales in the years