London Tower Bridge Facts

Tower Bridge Facts | Know More About Tower Bridge in London

One of London's most iconic landmarks and architectural marvels, the Tower Bridge is a bascule and suspension bridge located above and across the River Thames. It is noted for its unmatched Victorian or Neo-Gothic style of architecture and has two towers connected by two walkways. It was constructed in the late 1800s for better access to the East End of London. Often confused with the London Bridge, the Tower Bridge is considered to be way more superior and majestic, visually. The bridge gets its name from the Tower of London, situated nearby.

Tower Bridge Overview

London Tower Bridge Facts

Location: London Borough of Southwark, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Architect: Horace Jones

Type: Bascule and Suspension Bridge

Opening Date: 30 June 1894

Length: 240 meters

Height of each tower: 65 meters

Width: 76 meters

Visitors per year: 500,000 people

About Tower Bridge

Top Tower Bridge Facts

London Tower Bridge Facts

The final design was chosen out of 50 options

More than 50 designs were submitted to the City of London Corporation when the idea was first proposed. Some are on display at Tower Bridge even today. It took 8 years of the Special Bridge or Subway Committee to approve a design. Finally, in October of 1884 the bascule and suspension design of City Architect Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry was chosen.

London Tower Bridge Facts

It took 8 years to built the bridge

The Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894. It took five major companies, and the hard work of 432 construction workers to complete the Tower Bridge. Two massive piers were built on foundations that were sunk into the riverbed. It took 11,000 tons of steel to create the framework of the bridge. The framework was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The bridge was opened by the Royal Family

On 30 June 1894, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and his wife, The Princess of Wales, officially inaugurated the Tower Bridge London with great celebration. The opening of this bridge was an important moment in the history of London because before the bridge opened, people used the Tower Subway which ran under the Thames.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The bascules are operated by hydraulic power

Until 1974, the two bascules or walkways of the towers were operated using huge hydraulic pumps powered by coal-burning steam engines. It was then replaced by an electrical and oil-driven or electro-hydraulic system that takes only five minutes to raise the bascules and therefore, the Tower Bridge. Some of the original steam machines are now on display within Tower Bridge’s Engine Rooms.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The first Tower Bridge lift took place in 1894

The first time the Tower Bridge was lifted was on 30 June 1894, when it was inaugurated. It took a 2-minute delay before the bascules were lifted for the first time. The first vessel to pass through Tower Bridge was the Harbour Master’s vessel, Daisy. She was followed by a procession of honourary vessels. The last three ships to pass that day can be seen in William Lionel Wyllie’s painting ‘Opening of Tower Bridge’, on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

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London Tower Bridge Facts

A bus once jumped over the Tower Bridge

On 30 December 1952, a bus leaped over one bascule to the other. Bus driver Albert Gunter was driving bus number 78 over the bridge when it suddenly began opening. Back then, a watchman was supposed to ring a warning bell and close the gates before Tower Bridge opened, which did not happen on that particular day. Acting quickly, Albert managed to accelerate and jump over to the other bascule without injuring anybody. He was also awarded for his bravery.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The Glass Walkway was only added in 2014

The Tower Bridge unveiled two new glass floor walkways in 2014. This was one of the more significant developments to the bridge structure and experience ever since it was first opened to the public. Located 42 meters above the River, the Glass Walkway allows for some very interesting views of London.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The Tower Bridge opens about 800 times a year

The Tower Bridge opens its bascules 800 times a year, which amounts to roughly twice a day. Although this seems like a big number, it is nothing compared to the first year of operation. In 1894, the Tower Bridge bascules were lifted 6,194 times, that is 17 times a day! Things have been more streamlined since, clearly!

London Tower Bridge Facts

A man once flew a plane through the Tower Bridge

In 1951, Frank Miller flew a plane through the Tower Bridge on account of a dare his 13-year-old son challenged him to. The dare got Frank 35 shillings but also cost him a heavy £100 fine in court. Interestingly, in 1912, another Frank flew his biplane between the bridge but his reason wasn't as amusing.

London Tower Bridge Facts

Tower Bridge is commonly mistaken for London Bridge

The London Bridge and Tower Bridge are two separate bridges, often confused to be the same. The London Bridge is located further upriver and is much plainer in comparison. The Tower Bridge is also considered to be London's most famous bridge and sees close to 500,000 visitors annually.

London Tower Bridge Facts

Tower Bridge was part of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony

The Tower Bridge was the highlight at the 2012 London Olympics. Not only were the Olympic rings suspended from the walkways here but the James Bond movie sequence of the 007 and 'the Queen' (read: stunt double) flying through the bridge in a helicopter was also shot during the London Olympics opening ceremony. 

London Tower Bridge Facts

The Tower Bridge used to be brown

The original color of the Tower Bridge was a shade of chocolate brown. It was only in 1977 that the Tower Bridge was painted red, white, and blue to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Between 2008 and 2016, the bridge went through some more transformations. It is around this time that the Tower Bridge took on the bright blue and white colors that we see today.

London Tower Bridge Facts

Over 40,000 people cross the bridge every day

The Tower Bridge has continued to function as a vital crossing of the Thames. The Tower Bridge is used by over a whopping 40,000 people and nearly 21,000 vehicles per day.  This is excluding the 800 times that the bascules raise to let ships through. This does amount to a lot of wear and tear. To maintain the integrity of the structure, the City of London Corporation has imposed a 32 km/h speed restriction, and an 18-ton weight limit on vehicles using the bridge.

London Tower Bridge Facts

The largest Lego structure ever built was of the Tower Bridge

A record-breaking 13-meter high Lego version of the Tower Bridge was built for the launch of the New Discovery car by Land Rover. Made using a total of 5,805,846 individual pieces, it beat the previous record by 470,646 bricks. If laid end to end, the bricks used in the construction would stretch for almost 200 miles, which is the same distance between Tower Bridge in London to Paris.

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