HOME
The Info List - Tower Bridge



--- Advertisement ---


(i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

Coordinates : 51°30′20″N 0°04′32″W / 51.50556°N 0.07556°W / 51.50556; -0.07556 For the bridge in Sacramento, California, see Tower Bridge (California) . For the station in Co. Cork, Ireland, see Tower Bridge railway station .

TOWER BRIDGE

CARRIES A100 Tower Bridge Road

CROSSES River Thames
River Thames

LOCALE London
London
boroughs: – north side: Tower Hamlets – south side: Southwark
Southwark

MAINTAINED BY Bridge House Estates
Bridge House Estates

HERITAGE STATUS Grade I listed structure

PRECEDED BY London Bridge
London Bridge

FOLLOWED BY Queen Elizabeth II Bridge
Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

CHARACTERISTICS

DESIGN Bascule bridge / Suspension Bridge

TOTAL LENGTH 801 ft (244 m)

HEIGHT 213 ft (65 m)

LONGEST SPAN 270 ft (82.3 m)

CLEARANCE BELOW 28 ft (8.6 m) (closed) 139 ft (42.5 m) (open) (mean high water spring tide)

HISTORY

OPENED 30 June 1894; 123 years ago (1894-06-30)

TOWER BRIDGE is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London built between 1886 and 1894. The bridge crosses the River Thames
River Thames
close to the Tower of London
London
and has become an iconic symbol of London, resulting in it sometimes being confused with London Bridge
London Bridge
, situated some 0.5 mi (0.80 km) upstream. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
is one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates
Bridge House Estates
, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London
London
Corporation . It is the only one of the Trust's bridges not to connect the City of London directly to the Southwark
Southwark
bank, as its northern landfall is in Tower Hamlets .

The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. Before its restoration in the 2010s, the bridge's colour scheme dated from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
's Silver Jubilee . Its colours were subsequently restored to blue and white.

The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge's twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition, for which an admission charge is made. The nearest London
London
Underground tube stations are Tower Hill
Tower Hill
on the Circle and District lines , London Bridge on the Jubilee and Northern lines and Bermondsey
Bermondsey
on the Jubilee line, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway . The nearest National Rail
National Rail
stations are at Fenchurch Street and London Bridge
London Bridge
.

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 Inception * 1.2 Construction * 1.3 Opening * 1.4 Second World War
Second World War
* 1.5 Modernization * 1.6 2008–2012 facelift * 1.7 London
London
2012 Olympics and Paralympics * 1.8 2016 renovations

* 2 Design

* 2.1 Bridge structure * 2.2 Hydraulic system * 2.3 Signalling and control

* 3 Traffic

* 3.1 Road * 3.2 River

* 4 Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition * 5 Reaction * 6 Incidents * 7 Gallery

* 8 See also

* 8.1 Historic places adjacent to Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

* 9 References * 10 External links

HISTORY

INCEPTION

Elevation, with dimensions

In the second half of the 19th century, an advertisement in the East End of London
London
led to a hiring for a new river crossing downstream of London Bridge
London Bridge
. A traditional fixed bridge at street level could not be built because it would cut off access by sailing ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London
London
, between London Bridge
London Bridge
and the Tower of London.

A Special
Special
Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1877, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette
Joseph Bazalgette
. Bazalgette's design was rejected because of a lack of sufficient headroom, and design was not approved until 1884, when it was decided to build a bascule bridge . Sir John Wolfe Barry was appointed engineer with Sir Horace Jones as architect (who was also one of the judges). An Act of Parliament was passed in 1885 authorising the bridge's construction. It specified the opening span must give a clear width of 200 feet (61 m) and a headroom of 135 feet (41 m). Construction had to be in a Gothic style .

Barry designed a bascule bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways.

CONSTRUCTION

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
under construction, 1892

Construction started in 1886 and took eight years with five major contractors – Sir John Jackson (foundations), Baron Armstrong (hydraulics), William Webster , Sir H.H. Bartlett , and Sir William Arrol as they were only accessible by stairs they were seldom used by regular pedestrians, and were closed in 1910.

SECOND WORLD WAR

A Short Sunderland of No. 201 Squadron RAF moored at Tower Bridge during the 1956 commemoration of the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain

During the Second World War
Second World War
and as a precaution against the existing engines being damaged by enemy action, a third engine was installed in 1942: a 150 hp horizontal cross-compound engine, built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. at their Elswick works in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was fitted with a flywheel having a 9-foot (2.7 m) diameter and weighing 9 tons, and was governed to a speed of 30 rpm. The engine became redundant when the rest of the system was modernised in 1974, and was donated to the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum by the Corporation of the City of London.

MODERNIZATION

In 1974, the original operating mechanism was largely replaced by a new electro-hydraulic drive system, designed by BHA Cromwell House, with the original final pinions driven by modern hydraulic motors and gearing. In 1982, the Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition opened, housed in the bridge's twin towers, the long-closed high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. The latter still house the original steam engines and some of the original hydraulic machinery .

A computer system was installed in 2000 to control the raising and lowering of the bascules remotely. It proved unreliable, resulting in the bridge being stuck in the open or closed positions on several occasions during 2005 until its sensors were replaced.

2008–2012 FACELIFT

In April 2008 it was announced that the bridge would undergo a 'facelift' costing £4 million, and taking four years to complete. The work entailed stripping off the existing paint down to bare metal and repainting in blue and white. Each section was enshrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting to prevent the old paint falling into the Thames and causing pollution. Starting in mid-2008, contractors worked on a quarter of the bridge at a time to minimise disruption, but some road closures were inevitable. It is intended that the completed work will stand for 25 years.

The renovation of the walkway interior was completed in mid-2009. Within the walkways a versatile new lighting system has been installed, designed by Eleni Shiarlis, for when the walkways are in use for exhibitions or functions. The new system provides for both feature and atmospheric lighting, the latter using bespoke RGB LED luminaires , designed to be concealed within the bridge superstructure and fixed without the need for drilling (these requirements as a result of the bridge's Grade I status).

The renovation of the four suspension chains was completed in March 2010 using a state-of-the-art coating system requiring up to six different layers of 'paint'.

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS AND PARALYMPICS

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
with 2012 Olympic rings

The bridge featured in publicity for the 2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics
being held in London. In June 2012 a set of Olympic rings was suspended from the bridge to mark one month to go until the start of the games. The rings cost £259,817 to make, measured 25 by 11.5 metres (82 by 38 ft) and weighed 13 tonnes (14 short tons).

On 8 July 2012, the west walkway was transformed into a 200-foot-long (61 m) Live Music Sculpture by the British composer Samuel Bordoli. 30 classical musicians were arranged along the length of the bridge 138 feet (42 m) above the Thames behind the Olympic rings. The sound travelled backwards and forwards along the walkway, echoing the structure of bridge.

Following the Olympics, the rings were removed from Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
and replaced by the emblem of the Paralympic Games
Paralympic Games
for the 2012 Summer Paralympics .

2016 RENOVATIONS

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
was closed to all road traffic for almost three months in late 2016 (1 October to 30 December). This was to allow structural maintenance work to take place. The work included:

* Undertaking major maintenance to the bridge lifting systems * Replacing the decking and resurfacing the walkways and road * Replacing the expansion joints along the bridge to provide a smoother surface * Waterproofing the arches made from brick on the approaches to the bridge

During this time the bridge was still open to water borne traffic as required by Act of Parliament. The bridge was open to pedestrians for all but three weekends, where a free ferry service was in operation.

DESIGN

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
from Shad Thames

BRIDGE STRUCTURE

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
at dawn

The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, built on piers. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 86 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The bascules, weighing over 1,000 tons each, are counterbalanced to minimise the force required and allow raising in five minutes.

The two side-spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet (82 m) long, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways. The pedestrian walkways are 143 feet (44 m) above the river at high tide.

The main bridge deck carries two lanes of road traffic between two low-level pedestrian walkways across both suspension spans and the opening bascule section of the bridge, with the walkways separated from the roadway by fences. The roadway passes through each of the two towers, whereas the low-level walkways pass around the outside of the towers.

One of the chimneys on the bridge, which are often confused as lamp posts, connects up to an old fireplace in a guardroom of the Tower of London. It is long-disused.

HYDRAULIC SYSTEM

One of the original steam engines

The original raising mechanism was powered by pressurised water stored in several hydraulic accumulators . The system was designed and installed by Hamilton Owen Rendel while working for Sir W. G. Armstrong Mitchell & Company of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
. Water, at a pressure of 750 psi (5.2 MPa), was pumped into the accumulators by two 360 hp (270 kW) horizontal twin-tandem compound stationary steam engines , fitted with Meyer expansion slide valves. Each engine drove a force pump from its piston tail rod. The accumulators each comprise a 20-inch (51 cm) ram on which sits a very heavy weight to maintain the desired pressure.

The entire hydraulic system along with the gas lighting system was installed by William Sugg by night, two red lights in the same position. Foggy weather required repeated blasts from the ship's steam whistle . If a black ball was suspended from the middle of each walkway (or a red light at night) this indicated that the bridge could not be opened. These signals were repeated about 1,000 yards (910 m) downstream, at Cherry Garden Pier , where boats needing to pass through the bridge had to hoist their signals/lights and sound their horn, as appropriate, to alert the Bridge Master.

Some of the control mechanism for the signalling equipment has been preserved and may be seen working in the bridge's museum.

TRAFFIC

The tall ship Wylde Swan passing under Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
decorated for the London
London
Olympics in August 2012. Note the Olympic rings folded up to allow passage of the mast.

ROAD

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
is still a busy crossing of the Thames: it is crossed by over 40,000 people (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) every day. The bridge is on the London Inner Ring Road
London Inner Ring Road
, and is on the eastern boundary of the London
London
congestion charge zone. (Drivers do not incur a charge by crossing the bridge.)

To maintain the integrity of the structure, the City of London Corporation has imposed a 20-mile-per-hour (32 km/h) speed restriction, and an 18 tonnes (20 short tons) weight limit on vehicles using the bridge. A camera system measures the speed of traffic crossing the bridge, using a number plate recognition system to send fixed penalty charges to speeding drivers.

A second system monitors other vehicle parameters. Induction loops and piezoelectric sensors are used to measure the weight, the height of the chassis above ground level, and the number of axles of each vehicle.

RIVER

The bascules are raised around 1000 times a year. River traffic is now much reduced, but it still takes priority over road traffic. Today, 24 hours' notice is required before opening the bridge, and opening times are published in advance on the bridge's website. There is no charge for vessels to open the bridge.

When needing to be raised for the passage of a vessel the bascules are only raised to an angle sufficient for the vessel to safely pass under the bridge, except in the case of a vessel with the Monarch on board in which case they are raised fully no matter the size of the vessel.

TOWER BRIDGE EXHIBITION

Interior of high-level walkway (used as an exhibition space)

The Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition is a display housed in the bridge's twin towers, the high-level walkways and the Victorian engine rooms. It uses films, photos and interactive displays to explain why and how Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
was built. Visitors can access the original steam engines that once powered the bridge bascules, housed in a building close to the south end of the bridge.

The exhibition charges an admission fee. Entrance is from the west side of the bridge deck to the northern tower, from where visitors ascend to level 4 by lift before crossing the high-level walkways to the southern tower. In the towers and walkways is an exhibition on the history of the bridge. The walkways also provide views over the city, the Tower of London
London
and the Pool of London
London
, and include a glass-floored section. From the south tower, visitors can visit the engine rooms, with the original steam engines, which are situated in a separate building beside the southern approach to the bridge.

REACTION

Although the bridge is an undoubted landmark, professional commentators in the early 20th century were critical of its aesthetics. "It represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure", wrote Henry Heathcote Statham , while Frank Brangwyn stated that "A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
was never thrown across a strategic river".

Architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the bridge as one of his four choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series Britain\'s Best Buildings .

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
is often mistaken for London Bridge
London Bridge
, the next bridge upstream. A popular urban legend is that in 1968, Robert P. McCulloch , the purchaser of the old London Bridge
London Bridge
that was later shipped to Lake Havasu City in Arizona
Arizona
, believed that he was in fact buying Tower Bridge. This was denied by McCulloch himself and has been debunked by Ivan Luckin, the vendor of the bridge.

A partial replica of Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
has been built in the city of Suzhou in China
China
. The replica differs from the original in having no lifting mechanism and having four separate towers.

INCIDENTS

In December 1952, the bridge opened while a number 78 double-decker bus was crossing from the south bank. At that time, the gateman would ring a warning bell and close the gates when the bridge was clear before the watchman ordered the raising of the bridge. The process failed while a relief watchman was on duty. The bus was near the edge of the south bascule when it started to rise; driver Albert Gunter made a split-second decision to accelerate, clearing a 3-foot (0.91 m) gap to drop 6 feet (1.8 m) onto the north bascule, which had not yet started to rise. There were no serious injuries. Gunter was given £ 10 (equivalent to £260 in 2015 ) by the City Corporation to honour his act of bravery.

The Hawker Hunter Tower Bridge incident occurred on 5 April 1968 when a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Hawker Hunter
Hawker Hunter
FGA.9 jet fighter from No. 1 Squadron , flown by Flt Lt Alan Pollock, flew through Tower Bridge. Unimpressed that senior staff were not going to celebrate the RAF's 50th birthday with a fly-past , Pollock decided to do something himself. Without authorisation, Pollock flew the Hunter at low altitude down the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament
, and continued on toward Tower Bridge. He flew the Hunter beneath the bridge's walkway, remarking afterwards that it was an afterthought when he saw the bridge looming ahead of him. Pollock was placed under arrest upon landing, and discharged from the RAF on medical grounds without the chance to defend himself at a court martial .

In the summer of 1973, a single-engined Beagle Pup was twice flown under the pedestrian walkway of Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
by 29-year-old stockbroker's clerk Paul Martin. Martin was on bail following accusations of stockmarket fraud. He then "buzzed" buildings in The City, before flying north towards the Lake District
Lake District
where he died when his aircraft crashed some two hours later.

In May 1997, the motorcade of United States President Bill Clinton was divided by the opening of the bridge. The Thames sailing barge Gladys, on her way to a gathering at St Katharine Docks , arrived on schedule and the bridge was opened for her. Returning from a Thames-side lunch at Le Pont de la Tour restaurant with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
, President Clinton was less punctual and arrived just as the bridge was rising. The bridge opening split the motorcade in two, much to the consternation of security staff. A spokesman for Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
is quoted as saying: "We tried to contact the American Embassy, but they wouldn't answer the phone."

On 19 August 1999, Jef Smith, a Freeman of the City of London
London
, drove a flock of two sheep across the bridge. He was exercising a claimed ancient permission, granted as a right to Freemen, to make a point about the powers of older citizens and the way in which their rights were being eroded.

Before dawn on 31 October 2003, David Crick, a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner, climbed a 100-foot (30 m) tower crane near Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
at the start of a six-day protest dressed as Spider-Man . Fearing for his safety, and that of motorists should he fall, police cordoned off the area, closing the bridge and surrounding roads and causing widespread traffic congestion across the City and east London. The Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan Police
were later criticised for maintaining the closure for five days when this was not strictly necessary in the eyes of some citizens.

On 11 May 2009, six people were trapped and injured after a lift fell 10 feet (3 m) inside the north tower.

GALLERY

* * * * * * * * * * * *

SEE ALSO

* London
London
portal

* Crossings of the River Thames
River Thames
* Moveable bridges * Pool of London
London

HISTORIC PLACES ADJACENT TO TOWER BRIDGE

* HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast
* London Bridge
London Bridge
* Shad Thames * St Katharine Docks * Tower of London
London

Comparison of the side elevations of the Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
and some notable bridges at the same scale. (click for interactive version)

REFERENCES

CITATIONS

* ^ A B " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
restored to true colours Tower Bridge". www.thetowerbridge.info. Retrieved 8 February 2017. * ^ A B "Finishing touches to Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge". www.thetowerbridge.info. Retrieved 8 February 2017. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition website". Corporation of The City of London. Retrieved 18 November 2010. * ^ A B C Weinreb et al. 2008 , p. 922. * ^ A B C D Roberts, Chris, "Cross River Traffic", Granta, 2005 * ^ The Times
The Times
, 2 July 1894 * ^ A B C D E F G "Tower Bridge". Archive – the Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History. Lightmoor Press (3): 47. 1994. ISSN 1352-7991 . * ^ A B UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)", MeasuringWorth.com. * ^ John Eade (22 July 1976). "Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide". Thames.me.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2012. * ^ Smith, Denis (2001). Civil Engineering Heritage: London
London
and the Thames Valley. Thomas Telford. pp. 22–23. ISBN 0-7277-2876-8 . * ^ "The Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Engine". Forncett Industrial Steam Museum. Retrieved 27 February 2007. * ^ A B "The Firm: BHA Cromwell House". G. M. Beresford Hartwell. Retrieved 30 June 2015. * ^ A B Hartwell, Geoffrey. "Tower Bridge, London". Retrieved 27 February 2007. * ^ A B "About Us". Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition. Retrieved 14 July 2015. * ^ A B "Fix to stop bridge getting stuck". BBC News. 17 January 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2007. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
to get £4m facelift". BBC News. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2008. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
lighting". Interior Event & Exhibition Lighting Design scheme. ES Lighting Design. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
restored to true colours". Tower Bridge Restoration Website. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010. * ^ Olympics rings Tower over London, Daily Mail (London), accessed 29 July 2012. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
is London\'s Latest Venue – Classic FM Music News and Features". Classicfm.com. Retrieved 28 May 2013. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
as a musical instrument". Classical-Music.com. Retrieved 28 May 2013. * ^ Topping, Alexandra (13 August 2012). " London
London
2012: let the Paralympics preparations begin". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 August 2012. * ^ " Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
closure". Transport for London. * ^ "11 Secret Features Of Famous London
London
Landmarks". Londonist. 20 October 2015. * ^ "Bridge History". Towerbridge.org.uk. 1 February 2003. Retrieved 13 June 2012. * ^ Lane, MR (1989). The Rendel Connection: a dynasty of engineers. Quiller press, London. ISBN 1-870948-01-7 . * ^ "History William Sugg & Co Westminster gas lighting cooking heating appliance manufacturer.". * ^ Fleet Sail Royal Greenwich * ^ A B Speed Check Services. "Bridge Protection Scheme" (PDF). Retrieved 18 November 2010. * ^ "Bridge Lifts". Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Official Website. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2007. * ^ "Bridge Lift Times". Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition. City of London
London
. Retrieved 10 November 2014. * ^ "Step Inside". Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Exhibition. Retrieved 14 July 2015.

* ^ Statham, H.H., "Bridge Engineering", Wiley, 1916. * ^ Brangwyn, F., and Sparrow, W. S. , "A Book of Bridges", John Lane, 1920. * ^ Cruickshank, Dan. "Choosing Britain\'s Best Buildings". BBC History. Retrieved 3 June 2008. * ^ Jason Cochran, Pauline Frommer (2007). Pauline Frommer\'s London. Frommer's. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-470-05228-0 . Retrieved 9 July 2011. * ^ "How London Bridge
London Bridge
was sold to the States (From This Is Local London)". Thisislocallondon.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2012. * ^ Silk, Michael; Manley, Andrew (3 June 2014). "From Tower Bridge to Sydney Harbour, welcome to China’s city of clones". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2015. * ^ "Tower Bridge, London, UK". BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2008. * ^ "The Jumping Bus". Time . 12 January 1953. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. * ^ Car Journals. "Mind The Gap When Jumping Over Tower Bridge". Car Journals. Retrieved 20 June 2014. * ^ p.157, Shaw, Michael 'No.1 Squadron', Ian Allan 1986 * ^ " Hawker Hunter
Hawker Hunter
History". (scroll down half-way). Thunder & Lightnings. 29 Feb