Tower Bridge

A Grand Statement

Photo credit: Steve Parker via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic statements that London has to offer.

Stretching over the River Thames between the Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark at the East End of the city, Tower Bridge stands as a triumph of the Victorian age.

The grand suspension bridge with its two tall towers and movable bascules has come to symbolize the city's culture and history as well as its wealth, tradition and engineering heritage.

Photo credit: Martin Talbot (Tigr) via Flickr. CC By 2.0
Tower Bridge at Southwark

 The Tower Bridge Exhibition

Tower Bridge is open to the public and the fascinating exhibits housed in the Victorian engine rooms and spectacular views from the high level walkways make it a must-do experience.
The walkways are now fully enclosed and boast amazing views up and down the Thames.
The exhibition is visited by 380,000 tourists a year.

Tower Bridge Admission Prices

Ticket Type                                               Cost

Adults (16+)                                              £8.00
Children (between 5-15)                            £3.60
Students (with ID)                                     £5.60
Seniors (60+)                                           £5.60
1 Adult + 2 Children                                  £12.50
2 Adults + 1 Child                                     £16.00
2 Adults + 2 Children                                £18.00
2 Adults + 4 Children                                £20.00
Children Under 5                                       Free

Photo credit: Bart van Dorp (Bart vanDorp) via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Tower Bridge Exhibition Opening Hours

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The exhibition opening hours are as follows:

  • Summer. April - September: 10.00 hrs - 18.00 hrs
  • Winter. October - March.     09.00 hrs - 17.30 hrs
  • The exhibition is closed December 24th - 26th
  • The exhibition does not open on 1st January until mid-day

How To Get There

The entrance to the Tower Bridge Exhibition can by found in the north west tower of the bridge.
Photo credit: Phalinn Ooi (phalinn) via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

  • By Car. Tower Bridge forms part of the A100. The nearest car park is next to the Tower of London on Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6PD.
  • By Tube. Nearest Stations are Tower Hill in the District and Circle Lines (north side of the river), or London Bridge Station on the Northern and Jubilee Lines (south side of the river).
  • By Bus. The Tower is served by routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1.

Photo credit; Mate Marschalko (m.mate) via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Where is Tower Bridge?

Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower Bridge Road

For Map, click here.

Photo credit: Tammy Lo (tammylo) via Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Tower Bridge walk way

Nearby Tourist Attractions

When Can I See The Bridge Open?

The Bridge still opens to let ships through to let ships through around 1,000 times a year. To watch this spectacular event, check the bridge lift times here.

Photo credit: FatPassport Inc via Flickr. CC By 2.0 

Tower Bridge Facts

  • 432 construction workers were employed in the building of the bridge.
  • The leaves were originally powered by steam hydraulics.
  • In 1910 the open high level walk ways were closed to the public due to a lack of use. It was a long way up and the walk ways were seen as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets.
  • The bridge cost £1.2 million ($1.8m). In today's money that's £100 million ($150m).
  • Tower Bridge is raised about 1,000 times a year. River traffic takes precedence over road traffic.
  • It is crossed by 40,000 people daily.
  • It is 800  ft in length and and the towers are 213 ft tall.#
  • Urban legend has it that when American businessman Robert McCulloch brought the original London Bridge to ship back to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1968 he thought he was buying Tower Bridge. The story has always been denied.  
Photo credit: John Curnow via Flickr. CC By 2.0
Tower Bridge with raised Olympic Rings

How The Bridge Works

Photo credit: Stefano Brivio (buggolo)
via Flickr. CC By 2.0

Tower Bridge engine room 

The bridge was originally powered by steam, with large pumping engines being used to raise the bascules. The energy was stored in six accumulators.
Since 1976 they have been powered by hydraulic motors and gearing, driven by oil and electricity.

A History Of Tower Bridge

As London grew in the Late 19th century the need arose for a new Thames river crossing in the City of London, downstream from London Bridge. All previous bridges on the Thames had been built to the west of London Bridge but as pressure mounted for a new crossing further east, so the decision was made to build one further downstream.
A traditional low level bridge was not possible as any bridge downstream would have to accommodate the tall ships that would require access to the Pool of London, the thriving docks that made up part of the Port of London.
In 1876 a committee was set up and considered over 50 designs for tunnels and bridges until in 1884 a design by Sir Horace Jones was selected.
Photo credit: Justin Ennis (Averain) via Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Crossing the Bridge
Work started in 1886 and the bridge was finally opened eight years later in June 1894 by the then Prince of Wales (who went on to become Kind Edward VII).
The bridge consists of two suspension bridges spanning from the shores to two large piers which rise high above the Thames and are connected by a central section made up of two leaves or bascules. These open up to an angle of 83o to let tall ships pass through freely. The two piers are also joined across the top by two high level walk ways.

Tower Bridge By Day

Photo credit: S Pakhrin (SPakhrin) via Flickr. CC BY 2.0
Tower bridge by Day

Albert, Alan and Bill

  • In December 1952 a Number 78 London double-decker driven by Arthur Gunton was crossing Tower Bridge when it began to rise. With a full bus and having to make a split second decision, Arthur accelerated and soared clear across a 3ft gap, dropping 6ft to land safely on the other side. There were no injuries reported.
  • In April 1968, Flt Lt Alan Pollock a pilot with the RAF flew his Hawker Hunter FGA 9 jet fighter through the bridge in protest at both the RAF's refusal to organise a fly past to celebrate 50 years of the RAF as well as Harold Wilson's Labour government's RAF cutbacks. Flt Lt Pollack was later discharged on medical grounds.
  • In May 1997 Bill Clinton's motorcade was divided in two by the opening of the bridge after the President was late returning to his car after a riverside lunch with Tony Blair. The bridge opening times are pre-arranged and with river traffic taking precedence over road traffic, the bridge opened and the split was the result. The Secret Service were not best pleased.

Tower Bridge By Night

Photo credit: Nick (chelmsfordblue) via Flickr. CC By 2.0
Tower Bridge by Night

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