Tower Bridge

9 February 2003

Tower Bridge
On Stephen's birthday, a visit to Tower Bridge, seen here from an angle less familiar to most of us. The bridge was completed in 1894, and for almost 100 years was the easternmost bridge across the Thames.

Greater London Assembly Building from Tower Bridge
From the northern approach to the bridge, looking across to the Greater London Assembly building, last seen two years ago under construction.

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An even more unfamiliar view of the bridge, from the eastern elevated walkway to the western. Originally the plan was that pedestrians would use these when the bascules were lifted, but most people chose to wait rather than ascend and descend. As a result the walkways were closed from under use in 1910, until reopened in 1982 as part of the Tower Bridge Experience

London's Docklands from Tower Bridge
On this rather murky day, a view to modern Docklands. It was because the site for the bridge crossed the heart of London's docks on the Thames that it was necessary to find a design for the bridge which didn't disrupt shipping. Many years were spent analysing more than fifty designs before the present one was settled upon.

HMS Belfast from Tower Bridge
From the western walkway, a view of HMS Belfast and the dome of St Paul's Cathedral

Swiss Reinsurance Tower and Tower of London from Tower Bridge
The old and the new - the Tower of London and the Swiss Reinsurance Tower, better known as the Erotic Gherkin

View inside Tower Bridge
Looking straight up inside the southern tower, reveals some of the steel superstructure - it is easy to forget with the gothic flourishes that the bridge is a steel bridge, clad in non-structural stone.

Steam boiler used to lift Tower Bridge
One of the boilers, used until 1976 to generate steam to power the pumping engines, which stored energy 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. Nowadays the hydraulic power is generated by electricity rather than steam.

Engine used to lift Tower Bridge
One of the engines.

A signal, previously used to indicate to boats when the bridge was going to lift. Nowadays boats have to give at least 24 hours notice of a request for the bridge to lift.

Tower Bridge on the River Thames in London
One of the symbols of London, which still lifts almost 1000 times a year. See our trip on a paddle steamer for two occasions on which we caused the bridge to lift. Times of lifting can be found here.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson