|"Is this all real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"
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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.
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 responasibility 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 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 newspaper says that the collapse of the bridge raised the death toll although it appears that everyone got off the bridge before the collapse.
- The real-life Millennium Bridge had not begun construction in 1996 but in fact started in late 1998, with the main work starting on 28 April 1999.
- 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
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 According to Harry Potter Limited Edition - A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department (see this image), The Guardian reported, on 5 July, that the collapse of the Millennium Bridge had taken place 11 days prior — 11 days before 5 July is 24 June.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) - Chapter 1
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Harry Potter Limited Edition - A Guide to the Graphic Arts Department (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"