2:44pm Wednesday 27th March 2002
MAY 6, 1983: Grelle White talks to Ivan Luckin about his money-spinning ways with old City bridges
There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the Americans thought they were getting Tower Bridge when they bought London Bridge!
The nagging suspicion was firmly quashed when we visited the man who sold London Bridge, Mr Ivan Luckin, at his Chorleywood home.
"Of course not" thundered Mr Luckin with the sort of authority you expect in a City man.
Capital from the sale of London Bridge earns the City's Bridge House Estates more that £200,000 a year, money which goes towards maintaining the City's four bridges.
Mr Luckin has been a member of the Common Council of the City of London since 1964 and for many years served on the Bridge House Estates Committee, now merged with the City Lands Committee.
"They all thought I was completely crazy when I suggest we should sell London Bridge when it needed replacing," recalled Mr Luckin with the relish of a successful entrepreneur.
Five weeks before the closing date, March 28, 1968, there had been lots of inquiries - but no firm offers. The idea looked like collapsing in fiasco.
"What kind of publicity would that have been for the proud City of London?" asked Mr Luckin.
He volunteered to go to the States himself. As a press conference at the British-American Chamber of Commerce in New York with 50 correspondents, the question he had been waiting for came almost at once: "The bridge was only built in 1832. It is not the bridge with houses on it, not the bridge of the nursery rhyme. What's so special about it?"
Mr Luckin told them: "London Bridge is not just a bridge. It is the heir to 2,000 years of history going back to the First Century AD, to the time of the Roman Londinium ..."
On April 15, McCulloch Oil Corporation of Los Angeles signed the contract for £1,029,000 at Guildhall in London.
The McCulloch Corporation knew what they were doing, too. London Bridge has put Lake Havasu City on the Lonn Colorado river, Arizona, firmly on the map!
At the 10th annual London Bridge Day in Lake Havasu City two years ago, Ivan Luckin was the guest speaker an expression of the Americans' pleasure. His subject: How London Bridge Came to America.
As one of the mementoes of the whole enterprise, a miniature of London Bridge mounted on a piece of the original stonework - of which there was enough for a whole souvenir business to blossom! - stands on a shelf in his bachelor home in Chorleywood.
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