A Symbol of London when it was Built in 1894 and still a London icon today:
Built between 1886 and 1894, the Tower Bridge quickly became a symbol of London when it was opened. Up to this day, this flamboyant piece of Victorian engineering is still one of the grand icons of London.
The 224-metre bridge was built to ease road traffic whilst also serving as the gateway to the Pool of London docks. It is a combined bascule bridge as well as a suspension bridge which opens to admit tall vessels to the Pool. In its heyday, the Tower Bridge was opened five times a day.
As early as Roman times, the Pool of London was a major centre for trade, turning the City of London into a leading international centre for finance, banking, insurance and commerce. By the 1960’s its role in trade had ceased, since larger container ships were being built, and sea trade was being carried on elsewhere.
The Tower Bridge is one of the top sightseeing attractions in London. It now houses The Tower Bridge Exhibition, and its interactive displays bring to life the bridge’s history. The two pinnacled towers and the linking catwalk support the mechanism for raising the roadway when big ships have to pass through. When raised, the bridge is 40 m high and 60 m wide.
There are some 300 steps to the top of the towers, but there’s a lift that will take you to the high-level walkways. Here, at 42 metres above the River Thames you can enjoy stunning views along the river. From the West Walkway, the view sweeping from left to right is the South Bank and the Queen’s Walk, leading the Jubilee Walkway to Lambeth Palace. The latest addition is the City Hall, office of the Greater London Authority, which opened in 2002.
In the distance can be spotted the London Eye, Tate Modern (formerly bank-side Power Station), HMS Belfast moored in the Thames, BT Tower and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The touch-screens provide information about the buildings in view.
The great feature to the right is the Tower of London, the ancient fortress of London, with the White Tower built by William the Conqueror and finished in 1078. Here several Queens of England have been imprisoned awaiting execution, while today it has a more highly regarded role as the home of the Crown Jewels.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition is a self-guided tour which takes about 1-1/2 hours. There are guides there to answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, for an in-depth bridge experience, you could go on an private walking tour of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, with an expert to guide who specializes in art history.
Other Interesting Facts about the Tower Bridge:
- It took eight years to build the Tower Bridge
- Two million rivets are used to hold it together
- Tower Bridge is raised about 1,000 times a year
- 432 construction workers were employed to build the bridge
- Over 70,000 tons of concrete were sunk into the riverbed to support the construction
- Over 11,000 tons of steel make up the framework for the towers and walkways