London Bridge circa 1832
The bridge was constructed from Dartmoor granite, with a length of 928 feet (283 m) and a width of 49 feet (15 m). The official opening took place on 1 August 1831; King William IV and Queen Adelaide attended a banquet in a pavilion erected on the bridge. The recently constructed HMS Beagle was the first ship to pass under it. It was widened in 19024 from 52 to 65 feet (16 to 20 m) in an attempt to combat London's chronic traffic congestion. Unfortunately, this proved too much for the bridge's foundations; it was subsequently discovered that the bridge was sinking an inch every eight years. By 1924, the east side of the bridge was some three to four inches lower than the west side; it soon became apparent that the old bridge would have to be removed and replaced with a more modern one.
On 18 April 1968, Rennie's bridge was sold to the American entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for the sum of $2,460,000 (it has been claimed that he was under the mistaken belief that he was buying Tower Bridge, though McCulloch himself strongly denied this). The bridge was reconstructed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and dedicated on October 10, 1971. Not all of the bridge was transported to America, as some was kept behind in lieu of tax duties.
The rebuilt London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
The version of London Bridge that was rebuilt at Lake Havasu consists of a concrete frame with stones from the old London Bridge used as cladding. The remaining stone was left at Merrivale Quarry on Dartmoor in Devon, so a large part of Rennie's bridge never left the UK. When Merrivale Quarry was abandoned and flooded in 2003, the remaining stones were auctioned off. The reconstruction of Rennie's London Bridge spans a canal that leads from Lake Havasu to Thomson Bay, and forms the centrepiece of a theme park in English style, complete with mock-Tudor shopping mall. Rennie's London Bridge has become Arizona's second biggest tourist attraction after the Grand Canyon.