Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:58 UK

A match made for Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge replica took 10 years to complete

A former roadworker has spent 10 years building a replica of Tower Bridge out of matches - two years longer than it took to build the real London landmark.

Michael Williams, of Shoeburyness, Essex, used 1.6m matches to turn his model-making hobby into a full time job and create the wooden artwork.

"I just wanted to do something different - the most famous landmark in the world," the 42-year-old said.

He said he hopes the 6ft (1.8m) model will go from a garage to a museum.

Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge spans 800ft (244m) across the river Thames.

Fire alert

Its replica stands 2ft 6in (76cm) tall and 2ft (61cm) wide, and is lit up inside and out.

The model has had three re-fits - problems with the lights almost saw the bridge go up in smoke when they failed - and Mr Williams said he had to strip the model back.

"The new bulbs have 100,000 hours. Being matchsticks I had to get it correct, I didn't want to replace them," he said.

Mr Williams said his friends used to think he was potty when he started creating the replica.

But that has not put him off start working on a new model.

"I can't say what it is, I'm going to keep it quiet until it is finished," he added.

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