|"Is this all real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"
The topic of this article is of a real-life subject that has been mentioned "in-universe" in a canon source. The Harry Potter Wiki is written from the perspective that all information presented in canon is true (e.g., Hogwarts really existed), and, as such, details contained in this article may differ from real world facts.
The Millennium Bridge was a pedestrian suspension bridge that crossed the River Thames in London. It was built some time before the Summer of 1995 and destroyed by Fenrir Greyback and a small group of Death Eaters on 24 June, 1996.
- "Just before the attack, we saw these plumes of smoke in the sky. If you looked directly at them, they disappeared, but you could see them out the corner of your eye. Then it all went dark and suddenly everything was exploding. If I hadn't stopped to try to see the smoke, I'd be dead by now. I know that these were devils, punishing for our decadent Western lifestyle."
- — Penelope Taylor quoted by Jamie Wolpert, "Bridge disaster hits London" in The Guardian (5 July, 1996).[src]
In the summer of 1996, Lord Voldemort ordered Cornelius Fudge to step aside from his position as Minister for Magic, with the threat of a mass Muggle killing if he did not do so. Fudge refused to step down, and thus Voldemort ordered Death Eaters to cause the Brockdale Bridge and the Millennium Bridge to collapse.
On 24 June, 1996, the bridge was attacked by Fenrir Greyback and a group of Death Eaters. Muggle Penelope Taylor, who was standing on the bridge, glimpsed "these plumes of smoke in the sky" that disappeared once they were directly looked at, just before the attack. The Death Eaters flew around the bridge in a spiral motion to create a twisting and buckling movement on the bridge walkway, and proceeded to fire blasts onto the bridge (at least seven, according to witness reports). The cables snapping, the bridge undulated and twisted intensely, pulling free of its piers, ultimately splitting in half and crashing violently into the Thames below, killing some Muggles who were crossing the bridge at the time.
- "The police are continuing with the investigation into the cause of the Millennium Bridge disaster. River traffic has been halted as police search for survivors. The surrounding area remains closed. The Mayor has urged Londoners to remain calm..."
- — A Muggle radio broadcast.[src]
Immediately after the disaster, a police rescue team started pulling survivors from the river, even while the bridge continued to crumble around them. No rescuer did, however, attract as much public warmth as Sam, a puggle who dragged his owner half a mile down the river, and to safety — by early July, the puggle was reported by The Guardian to become the first dog ever to win a medal for gallantry.
As river traffic was halted during the search for survivors, an investigative team remained working full time to try to grasp what had happened. The collapsed bridge was subject to intensive forensic examination by Europe's top structural and terrorist experts, although their efforts were mostly inconclusive. Westminster's Anti-Terrorism Unit and the Metropolitan Police could retrieve "nothing of value" to help figure out the responsible or how whatever devices used had been planted on the bridge without anyone seeing them before, during, and after the attack. CCTV footage retrieved by Anna Hill-Hall of the Metropolitan Police did not provide any clues, not did amateur footage, such as Anji Oliver's recording of the incident in her mobile phone camera — the blasts could be seen, but no source could be identified, even though they seemed to have been fired onto the bridge.
Penelope Taylor suffered a broken leg and pelvis in the collapse, although she recognised that she could have been one of the casualties if she did not stop to try and see the "plumes of smoke" she had glimpsed in the sky.
Of course, the Muggle population was oblivious to who were the real culprits and why they had acted. While some Muggles, like Taylor, thought that the attack could not have been the work of any human foe ("I know that these were devils, punishing us for our decadent Western lifestyle"), others, like Lucy Evans, were more earth-bound and blamed foreigners. While no political group claimed responsibility for the attack, Spanish Liberation Group ETA and Islamic Fundamentalist Cell Al-Hiraza were implicated. Mayor David Yates spoke to the population, urging them to be calm, and pledged to uncover the reason for the attack, find those responsible, and prevent any possible repeat.
The collapse of the Millennium Bridge had serious consequences in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds. The collapse of the Millennium Bridge was most likely also a contributing factor for the replacement of Cornelius Fudge by Rufus Scrimgeour in the post of Minister for Magic.
Behind the scenes
- The structure is based on the real-life Millenium Bridge, which was constructed between 1998 and 2000. Since its construction began two years after the fictional version's destruction, its depiction in the film may be considered anachronistic. However, other details in the films, such as the cars on Privet Drive, suggest that the film timeline takes place approximately 10 years after the books, roughly contemporaneously with the films' release dates.
- The Millennium Bridge was used in place of the Brockdale Bridge in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Despite its representation, the collapse shown is not to be confused with the Brockdale Bridge's collapse that occurs in the book.
- The real-life Millennium Bridge did actually suffer from damages that are very similar as to how they are depicted in the film when it was first constructed and opened to the public. Due to the heavy winds over the Thames, and the amount of people walking on it, the bridge wobbled and buckled uncontrollably. While the real bridge never collapsed as it did in the film, it did come very close to it.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (First identified as Millennium Bridge)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Notes and references
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- The prop issue of The Guardian featured in the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film is dated 5 July 2007. According to an article in this prop newspaper, the Millennium Bridge collapse occurred 11 days prior to that date, or 24 June 2007. However, this is inconsistent with the canonical timeline, which places the events in the summer of 1996. Thus, by taking the information from the prop newspaper and adapting it to fit the canonical timeline, it can be concluded that the Millennium Bridge disaster occurred on 24 July 1996.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) - Chapter 1
- Harry Potter Limited Edition - A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department: Posters, Prints, and Publications from the Harry Potter Films (see this image)
- Inside the New Harry Potter Movie's VFX Tech (archived), published by Popular Mechanics.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film), a headline on the Daily Prophet is visible stating: "Bridge Collapse: Death Toll Rises"