The Tower Bridge's image is synonymous with London. Other than Big Ben, the bridge is probably the most recognizable attraction in London. It is certainly the most decorative and spectacular bridge spanning the Thames and is also a functioning drawbridge. It was painted blue in honor of Queen Victoria's favorite color.


Construction of the Tower Bridge lasted from 1886-1894 and the final cost exceeded &pound1,500,000. The hydraulic twin bastules weigh 1,000 tons each. They are lifted when necessary to allow ships entry to the Pool of London, the area of the Thames River between this, the most easterly of the London bridges, and London Bridge. The former pedestrian walkway spanning between the two towers of the bridge is a breathtaking 112 feet above the surface of the Thames River.  The Tower Bridge is now a museum. It can be toured for a modest fee. It is well worth the admission price, however, to get the unobstructed view of the the city and Thames River that is afforded from the old pedestrian walkway.




How A Design Was Chosen 

The big problem for the Corporation of London was how to build a bridge downstream from London Bridge without disrupting river traffic activities. To get as many ideas as possible, the "Special Bridge or Subway Committee" was formed in 1876, and opened the design of the new crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were put forward for consideration, some of which you can see when you visit The Tower Bridge
Experience. However, it wasn't until October 1884 that Horace Jones, the City Architect, in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry, offered the chosen design for Tower Bridge as a solution. 


How It Works

When it was built, Tower Bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever built
("bascule" comes from the French for "see-saw"). It was a hydraulically operated bridge, using steam to power the enormous pumping engines. The energy created was then stored in six massive accumulators so that, as soon as power was required to lift the bridge, it was readily available. The accumulators fed the driving engines, which drove the bascules up and down. Despite the complexity of the system, the scules only took about a minute to raise to their maximum 86 Degrees.
Nowadays, the bascules are still operated by hydraulic power, but since 1976 they have been driven
by oil and electricity rather than steam.

Interesting Facts:

Tower Bridge has a fascinating history, which is explored in full in The Tower  Bridge  Experience. Here  are a few  interesting  facts you may not have known:



1910 - the high-level walkways, which were designed so that the
public could still cross the bridge when it was raised, were closed down due to lack of use. Most people preferred to wait at the bottom and watch the bascules rise up!

1912- during an emergency, Frank McClean had to fly between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short biplane, to avoid an accident.

1952 - a London bus had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the bus still on it.

1977- Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue to cele- brate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. (Before that, it was painted a chocolate brown colour).

1982 - Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910, with a permanent exhibition inside called The Tower Bridge Experience.


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