Document on the London Bridge now at the Lake Havasu History Museum

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The Lake Havasu History Museum has set up its permanent exhibit on London Bridge with perhaps the biggest addition to the exhibit since its initial installation.

The centerpiece of the addition is the original 12-foot-long mylar print of London Bridge with each stone in the bridge’s face numbered to allow the bridge to be deconstructed in London and rebuilt exactly as it was. thousands of miles to Lake Havasu City.

The piece bears a unique number on each stone that makes up the facade of London Bridge – at least on one side.

“This is the document they used here in Havasu to put all the stones back in the right place,” said Jay Coombs, who obtained the print, donated it to the museum and helped create the exhibit. of the artifact.

“We called it ‘The Key to the Puzzle’ and in a nutshell, that’s really what it is. Without this document, there would have been no way to know what goes where. It’s an important document, and it shows how far they’ve gone to faithfully recreate it here. It was important for them to do that,” Coombs said.

According to Coombs, the design was made by Jack Barber in the late 1960s. Barber was a Londoner whom Robert McCulloch hired and charged with inventorying, documenting and shipping the stones, as well as cutting new stones from the original quarry when one was damaged or thrown into the Thames during the dismantling of the bridge.

Once everything was shipped, the mylar print of the bridge with numbered stones was used by Carl Baker to reassemble the largest antique ever sold once it arrived in Havasu. Baker was McCulloch’s project manager for the rebuilding of London Bridge, as well as digging the Bridgewater Canal.

Prior to working for McCulloch, Baker had been employed by Coombs’ father, Joe Coombs, at Tri-County Engineering – which later became Trico – and Jay Coombs said the two families were quite close. Although Jay Coombs hasn’t seen Carl Baker Jr. in many years, he said they are still in touch.

This is how the coin found its way back to Lake Havasu City.

“Carl has all the Senior stuff, including his drawings,” Coombs said. “Carl was kind enough to send it to us.”

Once Coombs received the print from Baker Jr., he contacted Jim Boatright, owner of a framing store in Havasu, to prepare the piece for display.

Boatright said he could hardly believe it when Coombs told him he needed help coming up with a 12-foot-long plan.

“I’ve never had to deal with anything so big in my life,” Boatright said. “I didn’t really know if I could do it or not. Getting pieces of material to make such a big frame is the most important thing, because you want continuous links. The big issue was obviously the glazing, glass or plastic we put on it.

Eventually Boatright accepted the challenge and worked with Coombs to set everything up. He said he managed to build the frame and they found some anti-reflective plexiglass to cover the print – as the glass would have been too heavy.

But once it was framed, Coombs and Boatright had to find a way to get it to the museum.

“We had to tow it because it is too difficult to move it. So we had to put gussets on it to make sure it wouldn’t sag,” Coombs said.

Once at the museum, Coombs built a wooden stand to display the print – just above the museum’s model of London Bridge and just below the information board on the wall.

“It turned out pretty much as I imagined, luckily,” Coombs said. “I’m really happy about it.”

Acting director of the Lake Havasu Museum of History, Jillian Usher, said she feels the addition of the mylar print of the bridge really helps bring the story of the bridge’s move to life. She said Baker’s contributions to the project have always been recognized in the exhibit, but now there are a few visual elements to match.

“I think it adds a bit more awe and wonder to the legend that is London Bridge, and the meticulous effort they had to put in to bring it here brick by brick,” said said Usher. “So much history is told in this piece because it shows all the steps. They had to number it, then take it apart, ship it and put it back together. The incredible engineering and mechanics that went into such a feat n “have ever been done before. It is still the greatest antique ever purchased. It was not just moved here, but deconstructed and rebuilt. It is truly a great feat that our city should be proud of.”

Usher said the plan is for the image to be a permanent addition to the display on London Bridge, but it’s not the only addition. Usher said nothing was removed from the museum’s existing exhibit, but they added several artifacts that had been in the museum’s collections for years.

One of the additions is a collage of photos Coombs had donated years ago of his parents and McCulloch’s trip to London in May 1968, after McCulloch bought the bridge. Coombs said they made the trip to see London Bridge in person and to attend a celebration of the sale of the bridge at Guildhall in London.

Other artifacts recently added to the display include a copy of a check for London Bridge in the amount of $246,000 made out to “The Corporation of the City of London” and signed by Robert P McCulloch and CV Wood – dated April 16, 1968 The museum has also added some vinyl records depicting London Bridge which were written in Havasu as well as some artifacts commemorating the original opening of London Bridge in Havasu on October 10, 1971 – including a bolo tie, large coin, and decorative egg.

Usher said that to his knowledge, this is the biggest update to the museum’s London Bridge exhibit since its inception.

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