London tower bridge fun facts
The Tower Bridge in London is not only an iconic landmark but also a marvel of engineering and history, filled with intriguing facts. Here are some fun and interesting facts about the Tower Bridge:
- Completed in 1894: Tower Bridge took eight years to build and was officially opened on 30th June 1894 by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII.
- A Combined Bascule and Suspension Bridge: Tower Bridge is famous for its unique design. It’s a combination of a bascule and a suspension bridge. The bascule pivots and operating machinery allow the bridge to lift, permitting large vessels to pass through.
- Victorian Gothic Style: The bridge was designed in the Victorian Gothic style to harmonize with the nearby Tower of London. It was initially criticized for its bold design but is now celebrated for its aesthetic.
- Original Color Wasn’t Blue: The bridge’s current blue and white color scheme was introduced in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Originally, it was painted a chocolate brown color.
- Walking Over the Thames: The Tower Bridge features two high-level walkways, about 42 meters above the River Thames, which were designed to allow pedestrians to cross when the bridge is lifted. These walkways are now part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition and offer stunning panoramic views of London.
- Glass Floor Addition: In 2014, glass floors were installed in the walkways, giving visitors a bird’s-eye view of the bridge lifts and the river traffic below.
- Bridge Lifting Times: The bridge still lifts an average of 800 times a year. The lifting schedule is always pre-arranged to accommodate the passage of large vessels.
- Tower Bridge vs. London Bridge Confusion: Many people often confuse Tower Bridge with London Bridge, which is a more plain-looking bridge located upstream.
- Used by Over 40,000 People Daily: Despite being over a century old, Tower Bridge is still a vital crossing for Londoners, with over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians) using it every day.
- Inclusion in Pop Culture: Tower Bridge has been featured in various films and books and is a symbol of London, often used in media to represent the city.
These facts highlight the blend of historical significance, architectural beauty, and modern functionality that makes Tower Bridge an enduring and beloved symbol of London.
More fascinating facts about London’s Tower Bridge:
- World War II Damage: During World War II, the Tower Bridge suffered damage from German bombing but remained operational throughout the war, symbolizing London’s resilience.
- Steam-Powered Origin: Originally, the bridge’s bascules were powered by steam hydraulics when it was first constructed. It wasn’t until 1976 that this system was replaced with an electro-hydraulic drive system.
- Special Visitor Route During Construction: During its construction, a special elevated walkway was built to ensure that pedestrians could still cross the river while the bridge was being built.
- Bus Jump Incident: In 1952, a bus driven by Albert Gunton had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the bus still on it. The bus, and its passengers, made it across safely, and Gunton was awarded for his bravery.
- A Secretive Planning Process: The design of the Tower Bridge was selected through a secretive process. Over 50 designs were submitted in a competition, and it was Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect, whose design was finally chosen.
- Innovative Design for Ship Passage: The need for a new bridge arose because London’s population was expanding rapidly, requiring a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge. However, it had to allow for ship passage to the busy Pool of London docks, leading to its innovative design.
- Royal Apartments: The bridge was equipped with royal apartments, intended to house visiting royalty, although these apartments were never actually used for their intended purpose.
- Tower Bridge’s Engine Rooms: The original engine rooms, which housed the steam engines that powered the bridge lifts, are now part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, displaying the history of the bridge and its operation.
- A Long-Lasting Color Change: The decision to change the color of the bridge in 1977 from the original brown to the now-iconic blue and white was part of a city-wide effort to spruce up London and was so well-received that it has been retained ever since.
- An Enduring Symbol of London: Tower Bridge is not only a functional bridge but also an iconic symbol of London. Its image is recognized worldwide and is often associated with the city’s identity.
These additional facts add depth to the story of Tower Bridge, illustrating its historical significance, architectural innovation, and cultural impact as one of London’s most recognizable landmarks.