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Google Street View

Live tide at Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge's own Tweets!

Notice that the horizontal and vertical scales are very different (which exagerates that dip in the middle)

Tower Bridge planned openings

Tower Bridge Maintenance

BBC News of Tower Bridge
 
24 Frith photos of Tower Bridge
 
FLICKR slideshow of Thames Bridges
 
Tower Bridge is younger than it looks. That was built in to the design, which was intended to match, but not compete with, the Tower of London.
 
1870: Some fifty schemes were examined including a free ferry as at Woolwich.
The subway built in this year, should not, it was decided, include a giant under river arcade of shops.
Bazalgette submitted a design for a giant parabolic arch.
 
1878: This rather quaint design was submitted by Sir Horace Jones.
 
And Sir Horace Jones, City Engineer, was the eventual winner.
 
Queen Victoria was not amused -

... to those who say the bridge will increase the defensive strength of the Tower and improve the beauty and historical associations of the place all I can say is "Bosh!"

Other hostile comment included -

... architectural gimcrack ...
 
... a monstrous and preposterous architectural sham ...
 
... a discredit to the generation that created it ...

1886: Tower Bridge work started.
 
1890: Tower Bridge under construction, Francis Frith –

Tower Bridge under construction, 1890, Francis Frith
Tower Bridge under Construction, 1890, Francis Frith

1892: Photo of Tower Bridge under construction. The design had to keep the river unobstructed during the building period, and it was desirable that the roadway should be no higher than bank level. This ruled out a stone bridge because of the timber supports required below the arches whilst the stones were positioned, and also the clearance for large ships would be impossible.


Tower Bridge Works, 1892

Tower Bridge design and construction.
 
380 feet long, 60 feet wide. Central drawbridge with two bascules of 1,100 tons each, originally raised by steam-driven hydraulic power, today by electricity.
Two 300-foot steel towers clad in granite and Portland stone support the bascules as well as a 200-foot-high walkway which is cantilevered out from the towers. Suspension chains support the road spans from the riverbanks to the two towers.
Architect: Horace Jones. Engineer: John Wolfe Barry. Contractors: Sir William Arrol & Co. and William Armstrong.

1894: Tower Bridge opened 30th June. Painting by Wyllie, National Maritime Museum Site -

The day was glorious, the sun hot enough to raise a tremulous golden haze over river and land, the breeze brisk enough to keep colour sparkling and the landscape clear. Mr Wyllie found here all that his heart could desire – the close-packed flotilla of shipping, the race of the mighty river tide, the avenue of unpaintably brilliant and varied flaunting bunting, which led up to the mighty bridge standing white midstream in the westering sunlight, and the great fleet of craft of all sizes and rigs, headed by the Admiralty yacht Irene, passing under its vast uplifted arms. Here was a subject for an historical painter, and in that sense he has conceived and executed it.


Tower Bridge opening, 1894. Wylie

Tower Bridge opening celebrations
 
1894: Tower Bridge opening, Francis Frith –

Tower Bridge Opening, Francis Frith
Tower Bridge Opening, Francis Frith.

Known as 'the Wonder Bridge'
 
1894: Tower Bridge opened to traffic. It has a double drawbridge (bascules) to enable tall ships to pass into the Port of London.  The machinery was steam-driven. The high-level walkways were built as a result of the Act of Parliament giving permission for the construction of the bridge specifying that there should be access to the public at all times. When the bridge was first built it needed to open approximately 22 times a day but this is now reduced to about once or twice a day and of course on special occasions. The original design was by Sir Horace Jones assisted among others by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
 
1894: The Builder

“the most monstrous and preposterous architectural sham that we have ever known.”

1900s?:  Tower Bridge, Postcard -

Tower Bridge 1900s?
Tower Bridge, Postcard, 1900s?

1910:  Tower Bridge, Francis Frith -

Tower Bridge 1910 Frith
Tower Bridge 1910, Francis Frith

1913:  Tower Bridge, Postcard -

Tower Bridge 1913
Tower Bridge, Postcard, 1913

1918: A Dictionary of London -

TOWER BRIDGE: Over the Thames, from the eastern boundary of the Tower to Southwark, parish of St. John Horseleydown (O.S.). Erected by the Corporation of the City of London at a cost of over £1,000,000, 1885-94. Designed by Sir Horace Jones and Wolfe Barry. Half a mile long. Southern Approach opened 1902, Northern Approach carried out 1907.

1920:  Tower Bridge, Francis Frith -

Tower Bridge 1920, Francis Frith
Tower Bridge 1920, Francis Frith

1976: The original steam machinery was replaced by a diesel electric hydraulic system. The original machinery was preserved.

1976: Regulations for opening -

The bascule bridge will be open for the purpose of providing passage for the navigation of any vessel after the receipt by the Bridge Master of not less than 24 hours notice that passage for the navigation of the vessel is required and at or about the time stated in the notice as the intended time of passage.

Provided always that if the navigation of any vessel is not thereby delayed or interfered with it shall not be necessary to open the bascule bridge for the passage of any vessel, the mast or masts or funnel or funnels of which are capable of being readily moved or lowered with safety to the vessel.

By day and by night a red light will be shown both up and down the river from the piers on each side of the bascule bridge to indicate that the bascule bridge is closed or being closed or opened.

By day and by night a green light will be shown both up and down river from the piers on each side of the bascule bridge to indicate that the bascule bridge is open.

In restricted visibility, in addition to the signal prescribed by Regulation 4, a high frequency repetitive note of 820 cycles per second will be transmitted for a period of approximately 10 seconds, followed by a silent period of the same duration. These signals will be given over the loud hailer system from the north pier of the bridge for such period as the bascule bridge is open for river traffic.

In the event of it not being possible to give the signals mentioned in the Regulation owing to electrical failure or otherwise, hand beaten gongs will be sounded every 30 seconds from the north pier of the bridge for such period as the bascule bridges is open for river traffic.

In restricted visibility, the bascule bridge will be opened in pursuance of Regulation 2 for the passage of any vessel on the Master thereof giving warning when ready and in position to pass through the bridge by a sound signal of one prolonged blast followed by two short blasts followed by one prolonged blast.

22nd July 1976 S.J CLAYTON Town Clerk

Tower Bridge, Aerial
Tower Bridge, Adrian Warren Photo Library

Tower Bridge, Myers 2001
Tower Bridge © 2001, Doug Myers

Alisdair MacDonald (1940-2007) set up his camera on London Bridge (with Tower Bridge in the background) between noon and one o’clock and photographed every vessel that passed in the hour. He then created this composite image to show how busy the Thames really is! -

Tower Bridge Navigation
Tower Bridge, Port of London

Tower Bridge Website

PHOTOSYNTH is a worthwhile experimental program - install it if you don't have it already!

THAMES STRATEGY EAST Part 4 - Reach 1-3 - This covers the following Reaches: Upper Pool; Lower Pool; Limehouse; Greenwich; Blackwell; Bugsby's; and Woolwich. A large (7.79Mb) pdf file.
Thames Strategy East has the overall details.
Detailed description of Upper Pool, Lower Pool, and Limehouse reach

 
 
 
 
 
The Tower of London




Introduction
Estuary
PLA
QEII Br
Barrier
Tower Br
Custom Ho
London Br
; Frost Fairs
Cannon St Rb
The Great Stink
Southwark Br
Millenium Br
Blackfriars Rb
Blackfriars Br
Waterloo Br
Charing Cross Rb
Westminster Br
Lambeth Br
Vauxhall Br
Victoria Rb
Chelsea Br
Albert Br
Battersea Br
Battersea Rb
Wandsworth Br
Fulham Rb
Putney Br
Hammersmith Br
Barnes Rb
Chiswick Br
Kew Rb
Kew Br
RICHMOND
Twickenham Br
Richmond Rb
Richmond Br
TEDDINGTON
Kingston Rb
Kingston Br
Ditton Slip
Hampton Br
MOLESEY
SUNBURY
Walton Br
Desborough Cut
SHEPPERTON
Chertsey Br
CHERTSEY
M3 Br
Laleham Slip
PENTON HOOK
Staines Rb
Staines Br
Runnymede Br
BELL WEIR
Magna Carta Is
OLD WINDSOR
Albert Br
Datchet
Victoria Br
Black Potts Rb
ROMNEY
Eton
Windsor Br
Windsor Rb
Windsor Slip
Elizabeth Br
BOVENEY
Dorney Lake
York Cut
Summerleaze Fb
MonkeyIsland
New Thames Br
BRAY
Bray Slip
Maidenhead Rb
Maidenhead Br
Below Boulters
BOULTERS
Cliveden
Hedsor
COOKHAM
Cookham Slip
Cookham Br
BourneEnd RFb
Quarry Woods
A404 Br
MARLOW
Marlow Br
Bisham
TEMPLE
HURLEY
Medmenham
Culham Ct
Aston Slip
HAMBLEDEN
Temple Is
Fawley Ct
Remenham
Regatta
Phyllis Ct
Henley Slip
Leander
Red Lion
Henley Br
Angel on Br
Landing
Hobbs Boatyard
Hobbs Slipway
MARSH
Hennerton
Bolney
Wargrave
Shiplake Rb
R.Loddon
SHIPLAKE
Sonning Br
SONNING
Dreadnought
K&A Canal
CAVERSHAM
Reading Br
Caversham Br
Reading Slip
Purley
MAPLEDURHAM
Hardwick Ho
Whitchurch Br
WHITCHURCH
Hartswood Reach
Gatehampton Rb
Goring Gap
Goring Br
GORING
Swan
CLEEVE
Moulsford
Moulsford Rb
Papist Way Slip
Winterbrook Br
Wallingford Br
BENSON
Shillingford Br
R.Thame
DAYS
Burcot
Clifton Hampden
Clifton Church
Clifton H Br
Barley Mow
Long Wittenham
CLIFTON
Appleford Rb
Sutton Courtenay
Sutton Br
CULHAM
Culham Cut Fb
Abingdon Slip
Abingdon
Abingdon Br
ABINGDON
Nuneham Rb
Nuneham
Nuneham Park
Radley Boats
SANDFORD
Rose Island
Kennington Rb
Isis Br
Iffley Mill
IFFLEY
Oxford Rowing
Isis
Donnington Br
Riverside Slip
Boathouses
Punting
Lower Cherwell
Upper Cherwell
Islip
Head of River
Salters Steamers
Folly Br
Bacons Folly
Oxford Fb
Osney Fb
Weir stream
Osney Rb
Bullstake Stream
Osney Marina
OSNEY
Osney Br
Four Rivers
OLD RIVER
CANAL
Medley Weir Site
Medley Fb
Bossoms
Perch
Trout
GODSTOW
Godstow Nunnery
Godstow Br
Thames Br
KINGS
River Evenlode
EYNSHAM
Swinford Br
Oxford Cruisers
PINKHILL
Farmoor
Stanton Harcourt
Bablock Slip
Arks Weir Site
NORTHMOOR
Harts Fb
//Rose Revived
Newbridge
//Maybush
River Windrush
below Shifford
SHIFFORD
Shifford Fb
Tenfoot Fb
Trout Inn
Tadpole Br
RUSHEY
Old Mans Fb
RADCOT
Radcot Cradle Fb
Swan Inn
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
GRAFTON
Eaton Hastings
Kelmscott
Eaton Fb
BUSCOT
Bloomers Hole Fb
Trout Inn
St Johns Br
ST JOHNS
Halfpenny Br
Marina Slip
LIMIT
Inglesham
Hannington Br
Kempsford
Castle Eaton Br
Marston Meysey
A419 Br
Cricklade
SOURCE?
THAMES HEAD
SEVEN SPRINGS