It may not have a royal connection like the Golden Jubilee Bridge, or a historical connection like The Tower Bridge, but the Millennium Bridge still holds a special place in London – literally.

The Millennium Bridge was the first pedestrian bridge crossing over the River Thames for more than a century, and links Bankside (near the Tate Modern Gallery and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) with the City of London (near St. Paul’s Cathedral).

Construction of the Millennium Bridge first started in 1998, and the total completion cost came to about £18.2 million (which was £2.2 million over budget). The bridge was paid for by the Millennium Commission as well as the London Bridge Trust, however, it is said that £7 million came from the Millennium Commission alone. On its opening day on June 10th, 2000, the Millennium Bridge was crossed by approximately 90,000 people, and about 2,000 people were on the bridge at any given time.

During a charity walk for Save the Children, participants reported that they felt an “uncomfortable swaying motion” on the first two days of the bridge being opened; and as a result Londoners have now nicknamed the bridge “The Wobbly Bridge.” It was later discovered that the wobbly effect was due to pedestrians having an “unconscious tendency” to match their footsteps when they walk, which in turn gave the bridge an uncomfortable lateral sway. The bridge was closed for nearly two years in order to fix the “wobble,” and was later reopened in 2002.

Since then, the Millennium Bridge has become an icon in various London-based films, such as Harry Potter (during which the Millennium Bridge collapses after a Death Eater attack), as well as the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Millennium Bridge is approximately 10.8 metres high (above the River Thames at high tide), and its unique aluminum deck is about 4 metres (or 13 feet) wide. The total structure length is approximately 325 metres (or 1,066 feet), and its three sections are comprised of 81 metres (or 266 feet), 108 metres (354 feet), and 144 metres (472 feet).

Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern. By Adam Tinworth Millennium Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral. By Márcio Cabral de Moura
Millennium Bridge, at night. By Steve Rust Millennium Bridge, pedestrians. By Ben Cremin Millennium Bridge, sunset

Millenium Bridge Highlights

The Millennium Bridge has two river piers, and because of its unique design, the supporting cables were placed below the deck level in order to give it a “shallow profile.” There are eight suspension cables comprised of 120 mm of locked coil, and they were designed to pull with a force of 2,000 against the piers of each bank – which means the bridge is capable of supporting 5,000 people at any given time.

The bridge was designed by architect Sir Norman Foster as well as by the amous sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and engineers Arup. It is said to be an “engineering innovation” thanks to the bridge’s lateral suspension which allows it to be built without tall supporting columns.

Its designers also stated that the bridge was designed to resemble a “blade of light” across the River Thames, and it would serve as “an absolute statement of our capabilities at the beginning of the 21st century.”

Special Tips

  • If you're only in London for a short amount of time and want to see as many tourist attractions as possible, St. Paul's is a five-minute walk away from the Millennium Bridge, as well as Tate Modern (a four-minute walk away), and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (a two-minute walk away)
  • For some great photo-taking opportunities, you can get some fabulous shots of St. Paul's while walking north on the bridge, or the Globe Theatre while walking south.
  • Perhaps it may go without saying, but try to walk across the bridge when the skies are clear to get some great photos of the London skyline.