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The interesting history of Tower Bridge

25 February 2016 Back to Blog

Tower Bridge and Traffic Color Mix

This week we decided to take a look at Tower Bridge, where we’ve some luxury developments, such as One Tower Bridge, which is an outstanding new development by Berkeley Homes, occupying a key position on London’s Southbank.

One Tower Bridge

Sales Prices From £845.000

Rental Prices From £630 Per Week 

Then there’s The Arc, which has brand new 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments, as well as duplux penthouses.

The Arc

Sales Prices From £550.000

Rental Prices From £500 Per Week 

As with all of our developments, these are built in some of the most stunning areas in London, with rich history and culture making the area a strong draw. Here’s a look at the fascinating history of One Tower Bridge – there’s even a Tower Bridge Exhibition you could attend to find out more: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/bridge-history/

The beginning…

Initially the challenge was to build a bridge downstream from London Bridge – but without disrupting river traffic activities. This is because in the second half of the 19th century, increased commercial development in the East End meant that a new bridge was needed. However, a traditional fixed bridge couldn’t be built as it would cut off the access of tall-masted ships to the prot facilities in the Pool of London between London Bridge and the Tower of London.

In order to address the issue, a committee was formed in 1876 – the ‘Special Bridge or Subway Committee’ and the design for the new crossing was opened to public competition. Lots of designs were submitted – one was finally chosen in October 1884. It was submitted by Horace Jones, the City Architect, in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry, a civil engineer.

The building of the bridge

The bridge took a while to build – but after eight years, five major contractors, along with 432 construction workers, it was finally constructed. The bridge was supported by two massive piers and more than 11,000 tons of steel which provided the framework for the Towers and Walkways. This was clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone in order to protect the underlying steelwork and make the bridge look attractive.

The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by The Prince of Wales and his wife. It connected Iron Gate on the north bank of the river with Horselydown Lane on the south – known as Tower Bridge Approach – and Tower Bridge Road.

How does it work?

When it was built, Tower Bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule (meaning see-saw in French) bridge. These were operated by hydraulic, using steam to power the big pumping engines, with the energy stored in six big accumulators and this helped to make the bridge work.

For the last 40 years or so, the bascules have been operated by oil and electricity instead of steam. The original pumping engines, boilers and accumulators are now exhibits within the Tower Bridge Exhibition Engine Rooms.

Tower Bridge plays a vital role in ensuring that the main areas of London are connected. It is often mistaken for London Bridge – which is the next bridge along. There’s a popular urban legend that in 1968, Robert P McCulloch, who purchased the old London Bridge, thought he was purchasing Tower Bridge! He denied this, and it’s since been debunked by the vendor of the bridge, Ivan Luckin.

Fascinating facts

1952 – A London bus had to make the scary leap from one bascule to another as the bridge started to draw up when there was the number 78 still on it!

1977 – To celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue.

1982 – There is a permanent exhibition called The Tower Bridge Experience inside Tower Bridge.


The interesting history of Tower Bridge

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