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The Magical Tower Bridge Of London

Updated on October 2, 2015

The enchanting Tower Bridge is where history as witnessed scores of beautiful processions, marking the victorious celebrations with the Thames flowing beneath the magnificent architecture. Being the focal point of London, the bridge served to attract millions when it opened in 1894 and continues to stun visitors and locals alike, even today.

A 129-Year Old History

The story began back in 1876, when a committee was formed to design a bridge in order to eliminate the growing congestion towards the east end of London. After a few years of planning, the City Architect, Horace Jones was selected as an ideal candidate for designing and developing the architecture of the huge bridge. Consequently, after devising a strategic feasibility, in 1886 the construction of the bridge initiated. The detailed design of the bridge included high level walkways that could be used to keep the bridge open for those on foot, even while the tall shipping was passing through. However, the pedestrians preferred to stay and watch the shipping pass through instead of using the walkways. Hence, it became a spot for crime, which eventually caused it to close down in 1910. 1976 saw a drastic improvement in the operations of the bridge.

The previously steampowered hydraulics which moved the bascules, were converted to oil and electric power. The bridge was painted chocolate brown until 1977, when on Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee marked the change of the colour scheme. It was then that the bridge was painted blue and white with red detail, up till now. In 1982, the high level walkways were re-opened as a part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, after remaining closed for 72 years. They opened an opportunity for the visitors to appreciate the inimitable and distinctive views of the Thames.

The structure of the bridge is divided into two bridge towers, connected through two walkways at the upper level in order to endure the horizontal force applied by the sections which hover on the inner side of the towers. These robust towers are basically responsible for supporting the vertical components of the hovering sections and the reactions caused by the two walkways of the Tower Bridge. The machinery of the London Bridge and the bascule pivots are both lodged at the base of each tower.

Facts

  • There is a famous belief that an American Entrepreneur, Robert P. McCulloch bought the old London Bridge, thinking it to be the more famous Tower Bridge.
  • In 1952, while a double decker bus was still on the bridge, the bridge began to open. The driver of the bus, Albert Gunton accelerated and jumped a three-foot gap to avoid an accident. He was later given an award of £10 for his bravery.
  • 70000 tons of concrete was sunk in the River Thames in order to support the bridge whereas over 400 workers contributed in the construction of the bridge.
  • The Tower Bridge measures 244 metres in length and both the towers are 65 metres in height.
  • Whenever the river is high tide, the walkways for pedestrians are raised 40 metres above the river.
  • The beautiful design of the Tower Bridge, much appreciated by people across the globe, was heavily criticized when it was being constructed.
  • The Tower Bridge today is used by over 40000 people each day.
  • In order for the bascules to be raised to allow the shipping to pass, one has to give a twenty four hour prior notice, though river traffic is preferred over the bridge users. The bascules are raised for over 1000 times a year.
  • During the 2012 Olympic Games, the symbol of the games, the Olympic Rings, were displayed on the Tower Bridge.
  • In 2014, a glass floor was built on the high level walkways, measuring 11 metres in length and 1.8 metres in width, consisting of 530 kg panels each installed by a team of twenty people. The visitors can get a spectacular view of the Thames, the pedestrians whizzing on the bridge as well as the shipping passing beneath them.
  • The Tower Bridge is open for events and throwing parties. There are various open spaces and areas within the towers and the high level walkways where a party can be hosted, offering a breathtaking view of the Thames and an ideal backdrop for pictures!

The Tower Bridge is an iconic landmark of London that attracts millions of tourists from around the world. It is impossible for a visitor to tour London without visiting the place which defines it, the Tower Bridge. Today, despite the thirty three bridges constructed over the Thames, the Tower Bridge remains to be the “easternmost pedestrianized bridge”. Advance booking of the guided tours and Tower Bridge Exhibitions can be made to plan a visit to the attraction. Executive car hire services, taxis and minicabs are available, apart from the public transport that can easily be booked to move around London and visit the gorgeous Tower Bridge, especially at night when it glows in the dark, adding to the beauty of the capital.

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      An amazing architectural achievement.

    working

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