Tower Bridge Flickr jlcwalker

Tower Bridge

London, England, United Kingdom

Tower Bridge is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in London, although it is often mistakenly thought to be London Bridge. The distinctive design of the bridge has an interesting history and visiting it can easily be combined with a visit to the Tower of London.

London Bridge was traditionally the only bridge crossing for the Thames and as the city grew other bridges were added – but all to the west since the east was a busy port area. Fast forward to the 19th century and the industrial age was in full swing. The East End of London was now densely populated and there was a desperate need for a new bridge in that part of the city. The difficult part was designing a bridge that would be operational, but not interrupt the flow of river traffic – hence the bascule (see saw) design of the bridge. The design was ambitious to say the least and is an extraordinary feat of 19th century engineering.

Designed by Sir Horace Jones, construction went from 1886 to 1894. The bridge is made of masonry and steel. Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge, and uses hydraulics to open the bridge for water traffic to go by.

Located inside the structure is the Tower Bridge Exhibition which clearly explains how the Bridge works and describes its fascinating history. This shows visitors the history of the bridge through pictures and videos and also allows visitors to view London from the high-level walkways. These walkways had been used when the bridge was first opened but were closed in 1910 due to lack of pedestrian traffic. In 1982 they were refurbished, enclosed and opened to the public again.

Recently the structure of the Tower Bridge was extensively restored, much of the bridge was covered in scaffolding as old paint was removed and six new layers of primer and top coats was painted on. A number of rooms in the Tower Bridge can be hired, for weddings, dinners and corporate events.

The views from the upper walkways also afford spectacular views over the city – the views alone make the experience worthwhile, but the tour, exhibition and video screenings are very interesting and well worthwhile.

Other attractions in the vicinity include The Tower of London, the historic ship HMS Belfast and the shops and restaurants at Hay’s Wharf.

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