Fascinating Facts about Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge was originally opened in 1894. The current bridge is indeed a marvel of engineering as it is a stunning bridge that rises before your eyes to allow a passing boat or ship to go through. The need for a new crossing across the river became imminent in the second half of the 19th century due to rapid commercial development in London’s east end and because journeys across the river were getting delayed by hours. Over 50 designs were submitted for the job of building a new bridge. Finally it was decided to build a bascule bridge which used a counterweight to lift the central portion clear of the water. The bridge originally linked Iron Gate, on the north bank, with Horselydown Lane, on the south. Those roads are now known as Tower Bridge Approach and Tower Bridge Road, respectively.

There are many fascinating facts regarding the Tower Bridge that seem to be unbelievable at first glance.

Paint: Nearly 5,800 gallons (22,000 litres) of paint was used to paint it. Originally it was painted brown but later on to honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee it was painted red, white and blue.

Designs: Over 50 designs were submitted in response to a competition for the construction of the bridge. The design of Horace Jones in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry was accepted. There is an exhibition in the upper walkway where you can also see some other designs that were entered.

Upper Walkways: In 1910, the infamous high level walkways were closed because of their reputation of being crime hot spots for pickpockets and ladies of the night.

Buying London Bridge Instead of Tower Bridge: Unconfirmed reports say that oil tycoon Robert P. McCulloch was under the misconception that he was buying Tower Bridge although he bought London Bridge. He realised his mistake when the London Bridge landed in his hometown Arizona. Some people say that he was actually shown the designs and drawings of London Bridge and that he was at fault.

Watch on Webcam, 24/7: Tower Bridge can be seen all the time as a webcam is streamed 24/7.

Number of People Crossing the Bridge: Nearly 40,000 people cross Tower Bridge every day. For motorists there is a strict speed limit.  

 Amazing Features of Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge was considered to be the largest bascule bridge ever to be built at the time because of its sophisticated design. Bascule means seesaw or balances in French and this design had been in use for centuries, but it was not until the 1850s that engineers developed the ability to move long, heavy spans quickly enough for practical application. It took eight years and more than 430 workers to build the 244m (800-foot) crossing with its two mock-Gothic towers. The hydraulics is presently powered by oil and electricity although until 1976, steam was used for this purpose to raise the bridges up 86m in just a minute.

West Walkway of Tower Bridge is Made of Glass

The most exciting development of the bridge since 1982 has been that a new West Walkway made of glass has been opened to enable visitors to see the bridge and pedestrians below from a height of 42m above the water. It is quite an adventurous experience to walk on the glass although the thick glass is designed to take the equivalent weight of an elephant and two taxis!

Other Features of Tower Bridge

If you wish to see how the bridge opens and how it looks at that time, you should see the timings that are posted at the ticket office. The infamous high level walkways, that were designed so that people could cross when the bascules were raised, offer stunning views. You can see an exhibition inside that provides the history of the bridge along with other interesting anecdotes such as how a bus caught on the hop and a near diplomatic incident with President Clinton. For any visitor to London, the Tower Bridge is an absolute must-see. Visitors staying at The Shaftesbury Hotel Piccadilly have the advantage of being able to reach the bridge site easily and of staying in a comfortable accommodation at an affordable cost. The Tower Bridge takes a whole sixty one seconds to open and it is opened about some few thousand times every year.

Before the Tower Bridge was put into operation, people used the Tower Subway, which is a 410-metre tunnel, to cross the river here. At one time, nearly one million people used this tunnel a year with each one paying half a penny to do so. It closed to pedestrians in 1898 and is now used for water mains. Ships always have the right of way. A replica of Tower Bridge can be found in the Chinese city of Suzhou. It has a cafe inside offering “English-style coffee”.

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