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Millennium Bridge
Photograph: ShutterstockCity of London, Millennium bridge and St. Paul's cathedral at twilight

Revealed: The REAL reason the Millennium Bridge ended up so wobbly

And it’s probably not one you’d ever guess

Written by
Lauryn Berry
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It's been one of London's biggest mysteries for more than 20 years. No, not ‘which of the two Brick Lane bagel shops is the good one’. Why the hell the Millennium Bridge ended up so wobbly.

The pedestrian bridge opened in 2000 and achieved worldwide fame with its cameo in ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ back in 2009, as Voldemort’s Death Eaters swarm from the sky turning the bridge topsy turvy. But it had a (quite literally) shaky start. 

Like most bridges, the Millennium Bridge was intended to sway somewhat, but not quite as much as it did under the weight of thousands of people. News channels reported on it, noting that 160,000 people had visited and engineers expressed their disappointment with the bridge’s unexpected behaviour. The Millennium Bridge Trust investigated and believed that the excessive tremor was linked to the high volume of people crossing the bridge at a synchronised pace. And that was that, for nearly two decades. 

However, years later experts at the University of Bristol and Georgia State University, have done a study that reveals the true reason behind all this wobbling. 

Essentially, pedestrians felt so unsteady on the bridge that the energy they exerted in trying not to fall made the bridge even more wobbly. So the more the bridge wobbled, the more people wobbled while crossing it, and so on and so on in an endless wobble-cycle. Feel dizzy yet?

But don’t worry next time you’re planning your Sunday stroll from St. Paul’s to the Tate Modern. The bridge was fitted with dampers that soften the scale of the tremor in 2002, meaning there’s never been a shake-induced accident. An incoming attack from Death Eaters is probably still a more realistic concern.

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