As you will begin to learn, I love bridges! Some fantastic engineering feats have been realised through bridge design and construction. Tower Bridge is a perfect example of this.
History and Architecture
Over 50 designs were submitted for the bridge back in the 1800’s. Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry were the chosen Architects for the job. Their submitted design differed to the final built bridge, as it originally included a large steel arch under the walkways. The high level walkways were put in place to allow pedestrians to pass when the bridge bascules were raised. However, most people didn’t want to climb the steps with heavy loads and so they would simply wait for the bridge to reopen.
Considering the size and the complexity, the bascules take only 1 minute to raise, and they were powered by steam engines below. The energy was stored so it was readily available to lift the bascules to their 86 degree angle.
Visiting Tower Bridge
You can visit the old steam engine rooms that were in service until 1976. They have been kept in great condition and I certainly recommend a visit.
You can also walk across the high walkways which now have a glass floor. There is a small edging section for those afraid to step onto it though! If you can time your visit you can stand over the raising bascules and look right down into the Thames below. The Tower Bridge exhibition tells you all sorts of interesting facts about Tower Bridge and other bridges of the world. It mentions that Tower Bridge was once painted a chocolate brown colour and the red, white and blue was added after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
The main tube station for Tower Bridge is Tower Hill Station. It is easily accessible on the Circle (yellow) and District (Green) lines from most major areas in the centre but if you fancy seeing more of the sights than the rather stuffy, busy tubes then you can walk there from Waterloo station in 45 minutes. That sounds like a lot but there is a lot to see, starting at Big Ben and the London Eye, going through South Bank, past the Millennium Bridge (another post to come on that!), Borough Market (great street food options) and many more awesome attractions. It is one of my favourite walks along the Thames. The Tower Hill area also houses the Tower of London which has been home to some brilliant exhibitions, including the Poppy Exhibition. I have a photo of which I will upload soon but it was amazing to see the sea of red Poppies, all hand “planted” by volunteers. Tower Bridge won’t disappoint. The history, the architecture, the sights, are all staples of a London visit.
Quick Facts about Tower Bridge:
– Over 50 designs were submitted for the bridge back in the 1800’s.
– Considering the size and the complexity, the bascules take only 1 minute to raise, and they were powered by steam engines below.
– Tower Bridge was once painted a chocolate brown colour and the red, white and blue was added after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.