Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London.
The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London.
Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894.
The evaluation of the designs was surrounded by controversy, a design submitted by Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect (who was also one of the judges), was approved.
More than 50 designs were submitted for the bridge, including these by Sir Joseph Bazalgette.
It has two towers linked by two walkways and suspended sections to either side of the towers, stretching towards the banks of the Thames.
The central span of the bridge can be raised to allow ships to pass.
It took the efforts of 432 workers to help build the bridge and over 70,000 tons of concrete sunk to the bed of River Thames to support the bridge.And over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways.
Tower Bridge is 244 metres (800 feet) long and each tower is 65 meters (213 feet) high.
Over 40,000 people use Tower Bridge every day.
When it was built, Tower Bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever completed.
These bascules were operated by hydraulics, using steam to power the enormous pumping engines.
Today, the bascules are still operated by hydraulic power, but since 1976 they have been driven by oil and electricity rather than steam.
The bascules are raised around 1000 times a year.
River traffic takes priority over bridge users, but you must give 24 hours notice if you need the bascules to be raised to allow your ship to pass.
Tower Bridge was originally chocolate brown but was painted red, white and blue in 1977 to celebrate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
In 1982 Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910, with a permanent exhibition inside called The Tower Bridge Experience.It lets you discover the history of the Bridge and how it was built, through interactive displays and videos about the landmark its place in the history of the River Thames.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition in 2014 launched it’s most significant development since 1982 – the glass walkway. Housed in the West Walkway, visitors can admire Tower Bridge from a unique perspective and look down on passing boats and pedestrians underfoot and even catch the bascules rising if you time it right.
Most bridges in the world are not ideal locations for throwing parties, but guests at a Tower Bridge event do not have to worry about dodging traffic. Within the bridge’s towers and the walkways above are several event spaces with spectacular views that make Tower Bridge one of London’s most popular venues.
In 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.
In 1952 the bridge started rising while one of London’s double-decker buses was still trying to cross. Its driver, Albert Gunton, avoided catastrophe by accelerating rapidly and jumping the gap.
During the celebrations to mark the 2012 Olympic Games being held in London a massive set of Olympic Rings was displayed on Tower Bridge.
It’s a common misconception that the bridge is called London Bridge (and that there’s a song about it). This is actually called Tower Bridge, London Bridge is further down the river and is much more utilitarian.