It was the first bridge with masonry foundations to be built in a tidal waterway (H. Shirley 43).
As pier after pier was added to the structure the difficulties produced by the great rush of water through the narrowing space left to it must have made the pile-driving and other work increasingly difficult and hazardous. It is in fact quite possible that some 250 lives were lost during the work. Year after year it continued, an arch being completed on the average every 18 months. the pile drivers, mounted no doubt on specially constructed barges, would be an everyday sight, and loungers on teh wooden bridge would have watched the slow winding up followed by the sudden drop of the heavy weights which inch by inch brough t the pile down to the level of low water. They would have watched the hoisting of the blocks of stone from teh barges, the difficulty of gettin gthe lowest coursess of masonry placed on the foundations just exposed at low tide, and the pouring in of hot pitch, and later on would have seen the carpenters fixing their wooden centering uopon which were placed the carefully shaped voussoirs of the arch stones (H. Shirley 45).
The funds for the building of the bridge came from both national and private sources. In addition to endowments and generous individual subscriptions, chiefly from dignitaries of the church, revenue was forthcoming from a special tax on wool imposed by Henry II. Hence the oft-repeated tale that the foundation of the bridge were laid on woolpacks. The cost of building the bridge chapel was borne by the master mason, who was a mayor of London. Could any clearer sign be needed of the pride that such craftsman took in their work?.. The fame of old London bridge, however, probably rests chiefly on its street of houses and shops, the rents from which were intended, with the help of tolls, to pay for its upkeep (H. Shirley 46).
Japan is the home of the small picturesque bridge of timber arches, frequently built without the use of a single metal nail or bolt. Christian Barman cites Japanese bridges as examples of ‘exquisitely perfected temporary construction’. Briges and temples were often rebuilt anually. the famous Kintai-kyo bridge at Iwakuni used to have its five arches rebuilt in succession, so that the whole bridge was renewed every twenty-five years. According to Japenese belief structures must never be allowwed to fall into decay as that would enfeeble the spirit of continuity on which the survival of mankind depends (H. Shirley 32).
"Ponty" as it's known to the locals, is famous for its old bridge, which was, when built, the longest single spanning bridge in the world. The bridge, built in 1750 by William Edwards (a self taught mason) was so long (45m / 140 feet span) that it took three attempts to get it right. The first, a wooden bridge was washed away by floods, the second, of stone, collapsed during construction because of its weight. The third design was also stone, but much lighter because it had 6 large holes in it... 3 on each side, of diameter 9, 6 and 3 feet. Edwards was paid 50 pounds to maintain it for seven years. In 1857, a three-arch bridge was built alongside to make it easier for traffic to cross the river (the old bridge was a bit too steep).
Alcantara Bridge over the Tagus was built by the Roman, Caius Julius Lacer, for the Emperor Trajan.
“Some of the mightiest and most impressive Roman Bridges, which fall broadly into two groups, are to be found in Spain. On the one hand there is the long low bridge of many nearly equal arches acros a broad river valley. Of this kind are the bridges of Salamanca, Cardova, and merida. As a contrast there is themajestic majestic lofty bridge of few and unequal arches thrown across a wide rocky gorge (H. Shirley 21).”