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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrTower Bridge in London is arguably one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Towards the end of the 19th century, a bridge was needed in the East End of London thanks to increased commerce in the area. However, a fixed bridge could not be built as taller ships required access to various areas further up the river, particularly the ports in the Pool of London, a stretch of the river that runs along an area between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.
Not London BridgeA common misconception is that Tower Bridge is “London Bridge”. London Bridge can either refer to current London Bridge, which opened in 1973 and is a fixed bridge. However, there have been a number of London Bridges, but Tower Bridge has never been one of them.
Building Tower BridgeThe chosen design of Tower Bridge came from an open competition. However, the winning design was from Sir Horace Jones , who also happened to be one of the judges of the competition. The bridge combines elements of bascule bridges, which is reminiscent of drawbridges, and suspension bridges. Construction of the bridge began in 1887 and the opening took place on 30 June 1894.
Five different contractors were employed to complete the ambitious project which included 11,000 tons of steel. Sir Horace Jones did not survive to see his plan completed and George D. Stevenson who decided to change the brickwork on the outside of the structure to that of a Victorian Gothic facade. This decision is arguably what made the bridge into the striking landmark and icon you can see today.
Despite the bridge’s popularity today, when it first opened many criticized the appearance of it. Most criticisms were leveled at the ornate features of the bridge. However, now the bridge is often referred to as one of the best buildings in the United Kingdom and a must-see destination for anyone visiting the castle.
The official opening was conducted by The Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VII, and The Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark.
Visiting Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge ExhibitionIn addition to the structure itself. The upper walkway of Tower Bridge features an exhibition space as well as spectacular views of the Thames and the city. Of course, seeing the bridge from the outside is free but you will have to pay if you wish to visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Special group rates are available if you are visiting the exhibition space in a group of 10 or more people.
The exhibition space at Tower Bridge also features a glass floor in which you can look down onto the bridge from. This is not advised if you have a fear of heights but otherwise is a fantastic way to see the bridge from a unique angle.
If you are interested in how the bridge works, you should visit the Victorian engine room. At certain parts of the year you can also enjoy an “Ask the Techie” session, a talk and question and answer session in which visitors of all ages can find out how the bridge works and how it is maintained from those that specialize in maintaining the working parts of the bridge.
The exhibition space is open from 10:00 and 17:30 (last admission) between April and September and from 09:30 to 17:00 (last admission) between October and March. The exhibition area is closed on Christmas Eve (24 December), Christmas Day (25 December), and Boxing Day (26 December) and opens half an hour later than usual on 1 January.
Tower of LondonWhile not the same attraction, the Tower of London is right by the Tower Bridge and should be added to anyone’s itinerary if visiting Tower Bridge. The Tower of London is a historic castle and famous for being the home of the Crown Jewels. Not to be missed if you find yourself in the area!
Getting to Tower BridgeGetting to Tower Bridge is quite simple and a number of modes of transport will help you get there.
By TubeThe nearest tube station to Tower Bridge is Tower Hill . The District and Circle lines (the lines marked green and yellow, respectively) serve this station. Walking to Tower Hill to Tower Bridge should take you just under 5 minutes and take you to the northern part of the bridge.
You can also head to London Bridge station on the Northern and Jubilee Lines (black and grey, respectively, on the maps for the London Underground). The walk from London Bridge station should take just over 10 minutes and you will arrive at the southern part of the bridge.
By BusIf you wish to take a typical London bus, you can take the buses numbered 15, 42, 78, 100, or RV1 to get to Tower bridge.
By TrainYou can also take the train to London Bridge train station, Fenchurch street, or take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Tower Gateway.
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Author: JP_Translation. Last updated: May 01, 2015