Friday, October 31, 2003

Archway Bridge, London

This spans the apparently artificially created valley of Archway Road, which was cut into Highgate Hill in the ice age, as locals needed a less slippery way of getting from East Finchley. The quick deflection of a passing glacier et voilá. The bridge itself is famed as a popular suicide spot, its notoriety greatly enhanced by its close proximity to a well established mental institute. Emblazened on the side is the number 1897, which many assume is the year it was built (which was actually 1821) but is in fact a throwback to the days when the Canon of Highgate would keep a count of the suicides for his popular Morbid Society. This slightly notorious practise was stopped when a five man fight over who would get to be the 1900th suicide spilled into Lauderdale House and upturned Lord Lauderdale's fine collection of watercolours. The 1898th to jump was actually the Canon himself, giving lie to the oft-stated opinion that the Morbid Society were just voyeurs with no empathy for the suicidal.