The Tower Bridge is of the most popular tourist attractions in London
1. The iconic bridge was built between 1886 and 1894. It look 8 years, 30000 tons of stone, 11000 tons of steel and 432 construction workers to build the bridge.
2. The idea for a new bridge started in 1876 with over 50 designs submitted from a public competition. It was not until 9 years later that a revision was accepted by Parliament with the start of construction the following year in 1886.
3. The tower bridge crosses the River Thames near the Tower of London. The towers may look like the main bridge, it is actually cladding built around steel framework, in part to protect the steel frame and in part to give it a Gothic appearance in line with the Tower of London.
4. It is 240m long and consists of two side spans (82m each), two main towers (65m high), two abutment towers, the middle span (61m) and two high-level walkways with through rods meant as public path for when the bridge is raised. In 1910, the walkways were closed as pedestrians would rather wait for the bridge to be lowered than to climb up and down the steps to cross.
5. It takes about a minute for the middle span to splits and lift up with a pivot raising each half to 86 degrees allowing river traffic to pass under. We were fortunate to catch the lifting of the bridge on our visit up-close as these are more infrequent as there are now fewer river traffic and more road traffic. See video below.
The towers, high-level walkways and the engine room reopened to the public in 1982 with a permanent exhibition called The Tower Bridge Experience with multimedia, views, see through glass floor on the walkways and plenty of educational information for visitors young and old.
Buy your tickets online, combined tickets with other attractions work out cheaper. These combined tickets let you decide different days for different attractions so there is no need to rush from one to another. Check the bridge lift time and choose a nice spot on the north or south bank to watch the lift. Alternatively, do what we did and stay on one side of the bridge to catch it up-close. We allowed one attraction a day, but won’t recommend more than two. The Tower Bridge is walking distance to the Tower of London so you might consider that on the same day.
You can find out the bridge lift time on the Tower Bridge website. http://www.towerbridge.org.uk