Happy Birthday Tower Bridge: What Makes an Icon
Is there any landmark that says London more than Tower Bridge? There are a couple out there but it’s a close call. Tower Bridge’s imposing towers and majestic bascules (the sections that go up and down when a boat passes through the bridge) have been a feature of the Thames for 120 years this year. In 120 years Tower Bridge has seen its fair share of excitement and it’s a building with a fascinating history. So to celebrate why not learn a few fun facts about this testament to British engineering.
- Early Days. The decision to build a new bridge to cross the Thames was made in 1876. With existing bridges unable to cope with the huge level of traffic from the East End the City of London Incorporation made it known that a solution needed to be found.
- Best Of The Bunch. The design of the bridge was open to submission and more than 50 prospective designs were put forward. In the end the design we know and love was selected. It was the work of Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry.
- A Long Road Ahead. In 1886 work finally began on the bridge. 70,000 tons of concrete were used to build the foundations in the Thames and over 11,000 tons of steel were used to construct the framework. It would take 8 years to complete the work.
- Royal Approval. Finally Tower Bridge was opened on the 30th of June 1894 by the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII).
- Near Miss. During its illustrious history Tower Bridge has had a few aerial incidents, kicked off by the legendary aviator Frank McClean. McClean flew his biplane between the pedestrian walkways and bascules.
- Speed. London Style. Decades before Keanu Reeves saved passengers on a bomb-laden bus, one Albert Gunton carried out a similar feat of daring. As he was crossing Tower Bridge he was forced to drive the bus over a gap as the bascules were raised. The emergency alarm hadn’t been sounded so Gunton put the pedal to the metal and cleared the jump. He was rewarded with £10 for his quick thinking and bravery.
- Paint Job. In 1977 Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee. To mark the event Tower Bridge had a patriotic red, white and blue makeover.
- 120 Years Young. In 2014 Tower Bridge celebrated 120 years as a crossing of the Thames, looking better than ever.
It’s hard to imagine London without Tower Bridge spanning the Thames linking and it’s sure to be a defining landmark for centuries to come, marking out the vibrant and exciting South Bank area. It’s fitting that now, 120 years after Tower Bridge’s construction a new landmark has recently launched on the South Bank in the shadow of the Bridge. On the 25th of June One Tower Bridge opened, a new luxury development which occupies a prime position on London’s South Bank, in sight of three of the city’s most important icons: Tower Bridge, the River Thames and the Tower of London. For more information about One Tower Bridge click here.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post from One Tower Bridge.