Previously we have made a post about Little Belt Bridge in Denmark, listing it as our second favourite bridge in the world. So obviously our #1 favourite bridge has to have a mention as well – in our eyes it can be no other than Tower Bridge in London! We realise this is not an off-the-beaten-path thing to do in London. However, we’re hoping that this post will give you a bit of interesting information about the bridge – which you will most likely go see anyway, if it’s your first time in London, touristy or not…
We live a little less than 10 minutes walk from it, on the north side of the Thames, and have done so for almost 3 years. But still, every time we approach it during our morning run or on a random walk it hits me how spectacular it really is.
It always strikes me as a bit surreal and looks like a postcard. Maybe because it’s the bridge in the world that has been printed most times on a postcard. It looks different every time I see it, depending on the light, the time of day, and the weather. I far prefer it bathed in fog on a really gloomy and damp day. It then kind of takes you back in time and you can almost hear the horse drawn carriages rumbling over it, taking Londoners from one riverside to another. This bridge is steeped in history and the architecture of it is just breathtaking. We did a bit of research and here are a bit of random facts and interesting photography, that you may not have known about:
- The construction of it started in April 1886, it was nicknamed the “Wonder Bridge”, and it opened on June 30th 1894.
- Not everyone liked the bridge in the beginning of its life. The Times wrote in 1909 “It looks like a monstrous Gothic toy that ought to be one of the side-shows of an exhibition.”
- When it was built it was the first bridge of its kind combining elements of a suspension and high level bridge and a bascule. It was the largest bascule bridge in the world at the time.
- It’s the only bridge over the River Thames which has never needed to be replaced.
- It is in fact not made from stone. It is a steel construction that has been clad with stone.
- The Bridge’s original architect was named Horace Jones and he initially wanted to clad the bridge with bricks. When he passed away and a new architect, John Wolf-Barry, took over to finish the work, it was decided to clad the bridge with stone instead.
- 432 workers helped build the bridge and 70.000 tons of concrete was sunk to the river bed to help support the bridge.
- Today, more than 40.000 people cross the bridge every day – lots of them carrying selfie sticks and spending an average of 1,57 minutes trying to catch themselves from their “best angle” giving their best London-smile.
- Should you need the bascules to be raised to allow your ship to pass (if you have one of those), you need to give 24 hours notice.
- The bascules are raised more than 1000 times a year. On the day this post was made public, we at Borderless Tales were crossing the bridge on bike, witnessing one of these events.
- Just about 22.000 litres of paint is used when the bridge needs to be freshened up.
In 2011 these never-seen-before images were made public by a caretaker, who had found them in a building that was being made into flats. They show the construction of the bridge running for 8 years from 1886 to 1894. Final pictures is from the opening day, June 30th 1894. Aren’t they just amazing?
I can only imagine how awe inspiring it must have been to the Londoners, when this bridge first opened back in 1894. And it is still special to this day, a true marvel that has stood the test of time. Here we have a few images of the bridge from the past 100 years.
One final detail that I find quite interesting about the Tower Bridge is its popularity. As mentioned, we live really close to it and cross it fairly often, and I do not think it is possible to cross this bridge without bucket loads of tourists on it! Obviously these tourists are from all over the world, but one country has taken a special liking to the bridge and have simply made themselves a little copy at home. Suzhou city in Eastern China has in 2012, I believe, constructed their own version of the Tower Bridge. However, they must have not been entirely satisfied with the original design as they have added two extra towers, making it a square bridge. Apparently it has a coffee shop on the top floor that serves, now listen to this; “authentic styles English Coffee”. Last time I checked the English was into tea???
DISCLAIMER – Some of the pictures shown on this post are property of their respective owners, and we don’t hold any copyright about these pictures. The mentioned pictures have been collected from different public sources including different websites, considered to be in public domain. If anyone has any objection of us displaying any picture here, just send us an email and we will remove it immediately, after verification of the claim.
Tower Bridge London, Visited July 2015