UK Travel Guide

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Tower Bridge

It took eight years to build and opened in 1894. Impressive as it is today it must have been even more so back then. For many years London Bridge had been the only bridge over the Thames. As London grew and developed so more bridges were built but these were west, or upstream, of London Bridge. Finally in 1876 it was acknowledged that the east side of London with its large and growing population needed a bridge. It took until October 1884 for a suitable design to be approved as it had been realized that any building work should not disrupt or interfere with the flow of shipping downstream from London Bridge. The architects whose plans were accepted were Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry. Whilst it is hardly obvious, more than 11000 tons of steel went into building the framework for the towers, and walkways, which were then stone clad to offer protection and to blend in with the nearby Tower of London. Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge and its massive engines raise the bridge sections or arms( which weigh about 1000 lbs each) in just over a minute to a level of 86 degrees. Initially the bridge was raised well over 600 times a month but since usage of the Thames has greatly subsided it is raised about 500 times per year more by cruise ships and naval vessels. The towers and high-level walkway re-opened to the public in 1982 as part of a guided tour - "The Tower Bridge Experience". There is no charge for crossing the bridge itself.