Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


WYON, Benjamin: England, 1831, Silver, 27mm
Obv: Arms, crest and motto of the City of London   DOMINE DIRIGE NOS (The Lord Guides Us)
Rev: Bridge-House Estates mark within an oak wreath    LONDON BRIDGE COMMENCED 15. JUNE 1825 OPENED 1. AUGUST 1831
Not signed
One of a set of three medals in silver, bronze and white metal. Very rare in silver.
Ref: Welch 2; BHM 371/1545; Eimer 152/1247;  Weiss BW552

Around 80 CE, the first London Bridge was built over the river Thames by the invading Roman army, and at its northern end a large town grew up. This was to become London. Over the years the wooden bridge was built and had to be replaced several times. In 1014, when the Danes held London, the Saxons, under King Ethelred The Unready, were joined by a band of Vikings from Norway led by their King Olaf. Together they sailed up the Thames to attack the Bridge and divide the Danes. But the Danes stood on the bridge hurling spears down on the open ships. Olaf and his men rowed up under the Bridge, put their cables around the piles which supported the Bridge, and rowed off, pulling the bridge down, hence the song "London Bridge is Falling/Broken Down".

Two other timber bridges followed, one being swept away entirely in a storm in 1091. A third was built in 1163. The man who built it, a priest named Peter de Colechurch, vowed that his next bridge would be of stone. This was to become the old London Bridge, and until the 18th century, it was the only bridge across the river. It was a masonry structure of 19 arches. Weighted down by shops and dwellings, this historic structure was the center of London life for 600 years until the new London bridge replaced it in 1831.

The competition for the design of the new structure was won by John Rennie. The bridge was built 100 feet west of the old Bridge and for a time Londoners could see both the old bridge and the new one side-by-side. This London Bridge was built out of granite. It was a structure of 5 arches, 928 feet long and 49 feet wide. When the new bridge was finished and opened by King William and Queen Adelaide in 1831, traffic switched to the huge new structure and the demolition commenced on the old bridge. John Rennie was then knighted for his work. The old Chapel remains were dismantled as well and Peter de Colechurch's bones were found, but these were thrown in the river, an unceremonious end to the man who had built the bridge which had served London for six hundred years. The new bridge was to become one of London's most familiar scenes.  (Taken from London Bridge Museum).