Ten years of austerity policies in Britain seriously damaged the iconic structures that span the River Thames.
“London Bridge was falling down”Is an old nursery rhyme in the kindergartens of Britain. A rhythm that leads to the Middle Ages because the symbolic bridge, left as an inheritance by the Romans in the British capital, then covered with houses and businesses like the one that exists over the Arno river in Florence, coexists with a history of destruction, throughout centuries.
In 1281 by ice, in 1309, in 1425, in 1437 and the devastating London fire In XVII century. This time that litany has been fulfilled again. It cannot be crossed by vehicles. The reason is the ten years of austerity, which shook Britain during the Conservative government, after the banking crisis of the Lehman Brothers and abandoned it, like most structural works.
Three of London’s spectacular and historic bridges spanning the River Thames are seriously damaged and closed to the circulation of cars. One of them is so dangerous that even passersby cannot get through.
Hammersmith Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge and London Bridge are closed or limited. Another reincarnation is necessary to make them reborn from their own tired structures.
For 600 years, London Bridge was the oldest and most famous of medieval bridges, completed in 1209 under King John. People, goods, animals passed through it. On it they had built businesses, churches, and a “gatehouse”, which was an icon in London. In 1799 the old one was replaced by a new one, which lasts until now. He was the witness of one of the worst Islamist terrorist attacks of the 21st century.
No one is saved from deterioration. Not even Tower Bridge, the most visited, painted in light blue to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1977 and one of the most photographed in the world. It was closed for two days last month. It left a monumental traffic jam because their old mechanisms failed, when a ship passed under it, and they could not close it again.
The Port of London has now banned ships from passing under the bridge. Decadence has taken hold of these colonial monuments, which are used by the British in their daily lives as if they were new, although they do not have the necessary maintenance.
They are a photograph of the historical process that Great Britain is going through. It started with George Osborne as Chancellor (Minister) of Finance and Prime Minister David Cameron, who started brutal 10 years of financial austerity, that not only caused the middle class to go to the Food Banks for the first time but also to the abandonment of the maintenance of historical monuments, culture.
It continues when a group of conservative populists, led by Boris Johnson, settled the historic battle in their party between Eurosceptics and pro-Europeans by winning Brexit, which led to the European divorce.
Today they do not have bridges as a priority because they must pay a divorce with the EU, of which it is not yet known how much they will have to pay in compensation to their former European partners. But above all because their big investments will be in the north of deindustrialized Britain and not in a capital, with the highest number of millionaires per block. They must convince disenchanted Labor, who voted for them, to keep voting for it. there is the detested Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership is exercised by Sir Keir Starmer, who can win the election if it is tomorrow.
The noble and imperial Tower Bridge opens at least a thousand times a year, in front of the Old Tower, witness of Royal history. Its iron bridge opens in two and begins to rise like a bird, to the delight of tourists and annoyance of those who hope to cross the Thames from north to south. It was closed for two days in August because the mechanism to lower it stuck and left its drawbridge in the air, like a sculpture of the Industrial Revolution.
It is the most spectacular British bridge. The ships that passed underneath were fewer than in the empire’s time, when the warehouses around the bridge received the species and products of the colonies but still received their cargo.
It takes 24 hours in advance to authorize its opening and it takes precedence over motor vehicle traffic, which still crosses Tower Bridge. It takes at least a minute to board, several minutes for the ship to pass, and another minute for it to close. A magical moment, which not everyone can see frequently.
Tower Bridge is the only London bridge that can be climbed thanks to a drawbridge scale and suspension bridge. The middle of the bridge can be split and raised to make way for maritime traffic. But without being ancient like the London Bridge, its mechanics are sensitive.
“It is getting harder and harder to cross Tower Bridge. It opens frequently and does not take the same times as before. But all the bridges in London are being abandoned ”, said Dany Smith, a“ black cab ”or traditional British taxi, who crosses the bridge from the Financial City several times a day. “During peak hours there are many delays. They all lack investment. They are not safe, ”he explained.
In May 2009, five tourists and a staff member were locked, along with 10 other people, in the Tower Bridge elevator. One of them broke his leg, another a shoulder, and the others suffered serious bruises, when the elevator crashed from the first floor to the ground floor. While appearance counts, no major structural work has been done on the famous bridge to maintain it.