london panoramic cityscape
Tower BridgeLondon
Tower Bridge Road
London SE1 2UP
TfL Fare Zone 1

 

 

Tower Bridge is London’s most recognizable bridge and a magnet for photographers. If you can catch it with its central span opening to let a ship through, then that is a bonus. The tower bridge website has an item called ‘Bridge Lift Times’ which lists forthcoming dates and times when the bridge will be opened. A link to that website is near the end of this article.

Tower Bridge Exhibition
If you have the time it is well worth visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition inside the bridge itself. The museum includes the giant Victorian steam engines, two of the old hydraulic accumulators and one of the hydraulic rams that moved the bascules, along with other related artefacts.
 
Children enjoy the sheer size of the engines and the spanners used to work on them – they are much bigger than the average child!
 
As well, you can walk across the high-level walkway, 143 feet (43.6 metres) above the river, where you will be rewarded with stunning views up and down the river. There are special windows without glass in them which allow unobstructed photography.
 
The Glass Floor
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As if this wasn’t heart-stopping enough, the walkway now has a glass floor so you can gaze down at the busy river below.
 
The main entrance and ticket office for Tower Bridge Exhibition is located at the North West Tower of the Bridge.
 
The entrance to the Victorian Engine Rooms is located on the south (Southwark) side of the bridge at river level on Shad Thames. Shad Thames is on the downstream side of the Bridge.
 
Unique Design
Tower Bridge is unique in the world because it is a combination of suspension and bascule design. There is a good reason for this: until the mid 19th century the lowest bridge crossing on the Thames was London Bridge further upstream. Below London Bridge, the Thames River was deep and ideal for anchoring large ships.
 
The Pool of London
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The Pool of London became one of the busiest trading ports in the world. The river was lined with warehouses and wharves. The increased trade meant a population explosion on the south side of the river. By the middle of the 19th century pressure was on to provide another river crossing but the bridge must not stop the ships coming up river into the Pool of London.
 
Tower Bridge
A combination bridge was designed to solve the problem. The central span consists of two counter-balanced bascules (or leaves) weighing over 1000 tons (910 tonnes) each, that can be raised to allow the passage of ships upstream.
 
The original raising mechanism was powered by pressurised water stored in six hydraulic accumulators. Two static 360 horsepower (270 kilowatts) steam engines were used to operate the huge pumping engines. In 1976 the hydraulic fluid was changed from water to oil and electricity replaced steam.
 
The only other real change that has been made to the bridge is the manner in which requests are made to open the bridge. The old system of lights, horns and flags has been replaced by modern technology and requests for opening must be lodged 24 hours in advance.
 
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The bridge gets its name from the nearby ancient fortress, the Tower of London. It took 8 years to build and was completed in 1894. In 1977 the Bridge got its current colour scheme. It was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
 
Disabled Access
Fully accessible: lift, toilets & gift shop.
 
Tours
A full self-guided tour will last approximately one and a half hours. For more details go to  Web:  Tower Bridge Exhibition
 
Bridge Lift Times
 
Plan Your Visit
Opening Hours
Open all year except 24, 25 and 26 December.
Open Daily
Summer (1 April – 30 September) 10:00 – 17:30 (last admission)
Winter (1 October – 31 March) 09.30 –17.00 (last admission)
 
Admission Costs
The Ticket Office is located on the north-west side of the Bridge (same side as the Tower of London). For more information go to Web: Tickets
 
Attractions Near Tower Bridge
- Shad Thames and New Concordia Wharf
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)2074 033 761  Lines open 10:00 - 17:30 GMT
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
 
- By Underground
Tower Hill Station District and Circle lines
London Bridge Station Northern and Jubilee lines
 
Tower Hill Station
This station is on the north bank of the River Thames close to the Tower of London. Walk past the Tower along Tower Bridge Approach road, a 10-15 minute walk.
 
London Bridge Station
This station is on the south bank of the River Thames with Tower Bridge just a short walk away.
 
Walk across Tooley Street, turn left, continue a short distance along the smaller section that forks off the main street and turn right down an alley called St Olaf's Stair to Queen's Walk. Turn right along the river past Hay's Galleria, HMS Belfast, and City Hall.
 
- By Bus
Route Nos 15, 42, 78,100, RV1.
 
- By Rail
London Bridge & Fenchurch Street   Mainline stations; or
Tower Gateway Station                  Docklands Light Railway (DLR).  
 
 
Google Maps - Tower Bridge