Arizona: London Bridge isn’t falling down! Tabloid retracts story

London Bridge, which opened in the Arizona desert as a tourist spot in 1971.
London Bridge, which opened in the Arizona desert as a tourist spot in 1971.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

Score one for Lake Havasu City, the Arizona resort that’s the desert home to London Bridge, the one on this side of the pond anyway.

The Sun, a British tabloid, issued a retraction Monday concerning a story it published titled “London Bridge IS Falling Down.” The story said the bridge was crumbling and may be demolished to make way for a marijuana retail center called Hemped.

The paper’s retraction said in part: “We have been assured by Lake Havasu City that there are no plans to knock down the bridge or to build a centre for drug tourism. We regret any misunderstanding and are happy to set the record straight.”

The action came after the city’s convention and visitors bureau filed a formal complaint with the paper’s ombudsman and launched a media effort of its own to debunk the story, according to a statement Monday from the agency.


“Had The Sun claimed the bridge housed aliens from another planet, we would not have been as aggressive in seeking a retraction,” Doug Traub, president and chief executive officer of the visitors bureau, said in the statement. “But their ‘bulldoze’ story was feasible enough for readers to actually believe it could be true.”

The bridge by the Colorado River has been a tourist stop in northwestern Arizona since it was moved stone by stone from London after Robert P. McCulloch bought it in 1968 for more than $2.4 million. The reassembled bridge officially opened in 1971, and more than 50,000 people now make their home in the resulting city.

The Sun’s story also said the English Village, a cultural companion to the bridge, if you will, was down in the heel. The visitors bureau said it is being revitalized and that the paper promised to send a reporter to do a story on that effort.

The more staid Guardian ran a story this month that reassured the British public that the bridge remains in one piece.

But in some ways, the bridge isn’t really all there. When it was reassembled, workers built a steel framework and covered it with granite rather than using the bridge’s original granite blocks. The change dramatically reduced the weight of the bridge from 130,000 tons to 30,000 tons.