Jun 28

The Unabridged Times and Tales of London’s Tower Bridge

by in UK

London’s Tower Bridge has featured in stories, songs and even movies. The famous bridge that stretches across the Thames River is widely recognised around the World, and was first devised in 1876. Back then it was considered one of most urbane bascule bridges to ever be completed – fully operated by steam-powered hydraulics. Today the bridge’s bascules are driven by oil and electricity, taking just a minute to rise to their maximum angle of 85 degrees.

Tower Bridge – Facts, Exhibitions and Facelifts

As most Londoners would tell you, the first bridge to be built across the Thames was London Bridge. At that point in time the East area of the Thames was considered off-guard to bridge builders due to busy ports and boating activity. As the population in East London grew however, the public need increasingly mounted for a new journeying bridge.

The City of London Corporation were faced with the difficult challenge of building a bridge that would not hamper the production of river shipyards and boating traffic. 50 design submissions later, the proposal for Tower Bridge, submitted by architects Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry were eventually chosen in October of 1984. Eight years down the line, five major contractors later and the relentless labour of 432 construction workers – and Tower Bridge was finally erected.

In 2008, it was decided that the bridge was in need of a facelift. Not your average nip and tuck however, the entire project cost £4 million. The four year repair works included the installation of new walkways, LED luminare lighting, state-of-the-art coating and general maintenance. Leaving the bridge in gleaming condition, the construction efforts are expected to stand for the next twenty-five years.

Competing with its Thames cousin that inspired the song ‘London Bridge is falling down’, the Tower Bridge gained even more notoriety after it appeared in the Spice Girl’s 1997 Hollywood film Spice World. Since then it has become firmly entrenched in popular culture, appearing in box-office hits like Sherlock Holmes and The Mummy Returns.

Even though Tower Bridge is now powered by oil and electricity, the original steam engines are still maintained in an area that is now known as the Victorian Engine Rooms. In an exhibition area leading off from these rooms, visitors can learn about the bridge’s history through interactive displays and guided tours. A major tourist attraction, the Tower Bridge experience is the pride of UK workmanship and an inspiration to all who walk across its bascules.


Bella Gray is a lifestyle blogger who has an avid interest in steel boat builders and the history of London’s Thames River. A travel advisor for tourists looking to explore the UK capital, Gray is the perfect go-to-gal for all your holiday tips and travelling solutions.

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