Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 by The Prince of Wales and has become an iconic symbol of London. Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name.
The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge’s present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour.
Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.
History of Tower Bridge
Tower bridge was completed and opened in the year 1894. It was opened by Edward 7th when he was Prince of Wales. It took 8 years in it’s construction, using 5 major contractors and over 400 labourers. When it was completed and as it stands still today, it is one of London’s most famous landmarks, its designers, John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones can be proud of a splendid piece of engineering.
During it’s building, two piers were sunk into the river bed to support the weight of the bridge. A massive 11,000 tons of steel used then for the walkways and towers. A layer of Cornish granite and Portland stone were used as a covering, to protect the steelwork and to make it look nicer to the eye.
Still in use today the bridge is still opened for river traffic many times in a week. It is said bridge carries 1,900 vehicles per hour between 7am and 10am during London rush hour. 140 feet above the Thames you can look down and around the tower and see the original steam engines used to lift the huge bridge until 1976.
In 1910 the high level Walkways were closed to the public due to lack of use. People arriving on the bridge preferred to wait at street level for it to close rather then heading up the stairs carrying their heavy loads. In 1982, as part of the new Tower Bridge Exhibition, visitors to the bridge could once again enter the walkways, now fully covered, and experience the amazing panoramic views.
Although Tower Bridge is now powered by oil and electricity, the original steam engines maintained by a dedicated team of technical officers remain in their original location for all to see. This area is known as the Victorian Engine Rooms, the second section of Tower Bridge Exhibition. Over the past 28 years, the exhibition has been developed to keep pace with modern day needs without losing its Victorian essence. Through interactive kiosks and video walls along with knowledgeable Guides, visitors can learn about key events in the Bridge’s history, ranging from Royal visits to dare devil stunts.