11th century monks to pay for London bridge facelift

July 14th, 2008 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 14 (IANS) London’s most famous landmark, the Tower Bridge, is to get a new coat of paint, and the cost is being borne by medieval monks who maintained the bridge in the 11th century. The three-year restoration will see the bridge being stripped to its original framework for the first time. It will require 22,000 litres of white and blue paint to make it look new.

The cost, according to the City of London Corporation, comes to around 4 million pounds.

Britain’s taxpayers will not shell out a penny to meet the cost. Instead, it will all come from investments made by medieval monks who used to collect toll at the bridge under a 1,000 years ago.

The monks used to wisely invest the money they collected from tolls right from 1097 AD. The money is with their trust, Bridge House Estates, and is now worth 700 million pounds.

Tower Bridge operations manager Eric Sutherns told The Times that the bridge would not be completely obscured by scaffolding. “People will still be able to take their photo from angles where you can’t see the work going on.”

Tower Bridge was encased originally in brown paint until it was splashed in red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977. At that time, the new coat of paint was simply placed on top of the old.

However, because of modern health and safety regulations, the original lead-based paint must be removed, leading to an operation of enormous proportions - and precautions. All scaffolding will be enclosed with airtight seals to ensure that lead dust does not fall into the river or on to passing pedestrians.

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