Days Out: Tower Bridge walks
Sunday 11 June 2006
One of London's great landmarks, Tower Bridge was completed in 1894. Built of 11,000 tons of steel and two million rivets, its stone facade is only for show. Its original designer, Sir Horace Jones, wanted red brick. It was his partner, John Wolfe Barry (son of the architect of the Houses of Parliament), who took over after his death and gave it its present look. The arms of the bridge, known as bascules (French for see-saw), are raised for shipping hundreds of times a year. Two high walkways, open to paying visitor, have marvellous views.
Outside, stand with one foot on each bascule and watch the boats go by below. Up on the walkway, have a £1 coin ready for the talking telescope. Pick out Jacob's Island, Dickens's model for Fagin's lair. In the Engine Rooms, there are a number of low-tech interactives (shortly to be made more high-tech) demonstrating the science and workings of the bascules, as well as the biggest spanners you ever saw. To time your visit for a bridge lift go to towerbridge.org.uk (020-7940 3984).
Two short videos about the history and building of the bridge are a 140ft lift ride up the north tower, where a couple of models of alternative designs demonstrate the wisdom of the bridge-commissioning panel. On the walkways, little windows can be opened in order to take glass-free photos, and information panels identify key buildings ranging from St Paul's to the Gherkin. A section on how the bridge works is a useful introduction to the Victorian engine rooms below, in which you can see the two large steam engines that lifted the bridge until electrification in the 1970s.
A café is due to open at the bridge next year. For now, there are plenty of eateries in the area.
The tour is accessible to those in wheelchairs and a motorised wheelchair can be borrowed. Hearing loop.
Open daily (except 24 and 25 December) 10am-6.30pm (April to September), 9.30am-6pm (October to March). Adults £5.50, child 5-15 £3, concessions £4.25.
How to get there
Tower Bridge, London SE1 2UP (020-7403 3761; towerbridge.org.uk).
By Tube: Tower Hill (District and Circle lines).
By train: Fenchurch Street, Tower Gateway DLR.
By bus: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1.
By boat: from Westminster Pier, Waterloo or Embankment to Tower or St Katharine's Pier.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
Australia Day 2015: Best alternative places to visit
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...