The Mystery Of The Locks


For the first time in 15 years, St Paul’s Cathedral was freed from its scaffolding this week. The £40m cleaning project coincides with the 300th anniversary of St Paul’s being declared complete by Parliament in 1711. The smoke and dirt of three centuries of pollution had left the building blackened and damaged, but this has now been completely cleaned.

Last night I was at a party thrown by my friend Polly right opposite the cathedral, in the Globe Theatre’s beautiful Swan restaurant. For the perfect Midsummer’s night there were, of course, faeries in rather fetching wings serving drinks, and as we were looking down at the Millennium Bridge it seemed foolish not to walk across it at midnight.

Then I noticed these, attached to the bridge cables – dozens of padlocks going all the way across the bridge. What are they for? The only thing I could think of is that people leave them there as talismen, to mark where they’ve been, but perhaps they serve a more prosaic purpose?

Anyone got any ideas?

10 comments on “The Mystery Of The Locks”

  1. Cid says:

    They do that on some bridge in Paris somewhere don’t they? Maybe it’s related to that.

  2. Cid says:

    Yeah, here you go: not just Paris

  3. Matt McG says:

    There’s hundreds of them just outside the Uffizi in Florence, too. On the railings by the river.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks for solving the mystery. Apparently it started in China. If I go down there with a pair of bolt-cutters, perhaps I can destroy a lot of Chinese romances.

  5. Alan Morgan says:

    ‘Going equipped, sir?’

    ‘I’m a crime writer, constable..?’

  6. Chris Tandy says:

    Wikid-pedia offers this:

    Once locked, are the keys consigned to the deep waters below, I wonder?

  7. J F Norris says:

    Aww, Admin. You have touch of Morticia Addams in you, don’t you?

  8. Marc says:

    Anyone else reckon this is a joint venture by Yale’s and Chubb’s marketing department to increase sales…?

  9. Ness says:

    My Parisian guide pointed out to us all the ones that were combination locks – so no real commitment there. His friend had put 3 on the same bridge near Notre Dame in the same year. The council cuts them down every year or so to start again.

  10. Helen Martin says:

    So you’d be better off locking them onto your own garden fence or power line. Of course, that used to be the purpose of wedding rings – or am I terribly old fashioned?

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