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Byline: David Bentley Staff Reporter

A BIRMINGHAM bridge is being targeted by besotted couples putting padlocks on the railings in the latest romantic craze to sweep the globe.

More and more of the devices have been quietly appearing in the city as sweethearts express their undying love for each other.

It seems the trend for socalled 'love locks' - attaching a padlock to a bridge and throwing the key into the water - is now starting to create Brum's own version of Paris's famous 'Love Lock Bridge.'.

Young lovers in Birmingham are fastening the locks, with their first names written on them, to the parapet of Salvage Turn Bridge, which crosses the Grand Union Canal behind the Mailbox.

It has been increasingly popular over the past year, since Birmingham was declared the UK's fastestgrowing Valentine's destination in 2014.

Birmingham soared to 11th place in Expedia's love list ahead of Europe's other canal city and traditional romantic destination of Venice.

At the time, Emma Gray, director of marketing services at Visit Birmingham, said: "More and more couples are choosing to be charmed in Birmingham thanks to the city's romantic recipe of stunning architecture, world-class music and art and its famous Jewellery Quarter, offering priceless, bespoke presents for that special someone.

"Visitors can soak up the sights while taking a starryeyed stroll beside our city centre canals and enjoy the great collection of restaurants and bars to stop off at along the way. Birmingham is the ideal place to spend your Valentine's weekend."

Now it seems couples are also taking the opportunity to add a padlock while they are taking those moonlit canalside walks.

The craze is said to date back at least a century to a town in Serbia where a local schoolmistress died from heartbreak.

After that, young women in the town wanted to protect their own relationships from the same tragedy. So they wrote the names of themselves and their loved ones on padlocks which they fixed to the railings where the schoolmistress had gone to meet her lover.

The idea experienced a new surge of interest after a couple put a padlock on Rome's Milvian Bridge in the 2006 best-selling novel Ho Voglia De Te (I Want You), which was turned into a movie a year later.

Since then, bridges in many European cities have become a focus for the infatuated, with Paris's Pont Des Arts gathering an extraordinary number of padlocks to the extent it's now popularly known as Love Lock Bridge.

There is now a huge collection of the locks and accompanying love notes near Juliet's balcony at Casa di Giulietta in Verona, Italy, where hundreds of thousands of tourists go to see where Juliet stood when Romeo declared his love.

The romantic power of Shakespeare's tale overrides the fact that the balcony was only added in 1932 and that Romeo and Juliet are probably entirely fictional.

But the locks have become a problem in some locations. Their weight accumulates and can damage paintwork, stonework and metal railings, while the rust can spread and cause widespread corrosion.

Authorities say stonework on the 16th century Rialto Bridge in Venice is being damaged by the devices. And lamp-posts on the Milvian Bridge in Rome almost gave way under the weight of the metal hanging from them.

In June 2014, the huge mass of padlocks on Love Lock Bridge in Paris was blamed for the collapse of part of the railing.

Others simply say the locks are an eyesore but supporters of the phenomenon insist many tourists are visiting sights just to see the array of romantic gestures.

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The many |padlocks which have appeared around Juliet's balcony in Verona

Padlocks of love on Salvage Turn Bridge |
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Feb 5, 2015
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