The Tale Of Tower Bridge (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

It's one of the most visible buildings in London...let's go inside.


This is Tower Bridge.  It spans the River Thames right near the Tower of London. It's not London Bridge, though many people make that mistake. 


This is one of the most photographed, most admired, most iconic structures in the London skyline. It's also one of the newest, relatively.  It was completed in June of 1894. As much as we've seen it, we don't often see inside those towers.  Here they are with part of the Tower Of London in the foreground.  It's 1,000 years old in spots.

There's a tour called the Tower Bridge go up one tower, across the upper walkways and into the other tower. This is the inside of one of them.

There's also a lot of information on why the bridge was built in the first place.  In the late 1800's as many as 170,000 people a day, with their carts and livestock, would cross London Bridge. It was too much traffic.  There was a need for a new way for everyone to traverse the Thames.  Here's an artist's look at what London Bridge was like back then.

There was a design competition to determine what the new bridge, down river from London Bridge, would look like. One key component was that the span would raise so taller ships could get through.  It took 8 years to build at a cost of about 1.2 million pounds.  The bridge uses 30,000 tons of stone and 10 men died during construction.  Here's a view from one of the upper walkways on a gray London afternoon.

 At their base the towers house the hydraulic machinery that was built to raise and lower the bridge.


It involved using steam to pump water to supply the power needed.  I don't really understand it but it seems like a remarkable engineering feat for the late 1800's.

 The steam engines are still there but the system was replaced by a hydroelectric one in the mid 1970's. 

It's an interesting tour.  It's a structure we see so often on the outside..rarely on the inside.  Here's another view of an elegant staircase inside one of the towers.

So when you watch royal wedding coverage, or maybe Wimbledon tennis coverage or anything else to do with London, and they show a generic picture of the city, it will likely include this (minus me).

 You'll know what it looks like on the inside.  Just don't call it London Bridge!

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward


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