The Tower Bridge in London
The Tower Bridge in London, often mistaken for the London Bridge, which spans the Thames somewhat further upstream, clearly outshines the rather nondescript London Bridge with its quite ornate and elegant facade. However, the Tower Bridge does owe its existence to the tolls levied on the London Bridge, which paid for its more than one-million-pound construction fee. The bridge was completed in 1894, and both Sir Horace Jones and George Daniel Stevenson are credited for the structure, as Stevenson took over the responsibility of constructing the bridge after Sir Horace’s premature death seven years prior to the bridge’s completion.
Architects around the globe consider the Tower Bridge to be one of the most impressive civil engineering projects in history, requiring over 400 men and 70,000 tons of concrete to complete the combination drawbridge and suspension bridge. Made almost entirely of concrete and Scottish steel, the bridge was actually completed in sections and then shipped downstream to the building site.
Most find the bridge’s dual bascules to be its most remarkable feature, and if I were merely a civil engineer, I am sure I would feel the same, but as both a devoted art admirer and architect I see structures from an aesthetic standpoint, and although I admire the bridge as whole, I am most impressed with the bridge’s twin supporting towers or piers that are composed almost entirely of concrete.
The Bridge was originally painted brown at its creation, but it was repainted the nation’s patriotic colors of red, white, and blue in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 25th year as the United Kingdom’s reigning monarch.
There is a rumor floating around the Internet that the purchaser of the 19th Century London Bridge, Robert McCulloch, bought the bridge mistakenly, believing he was acquiring the Tower Bridge instead, but the story has proved to be unfounded.
I chose the Tower Bridge as the subject of this post, as I will soon be returning to London, this time for pleasure. I have already visited, or rather driven over, the Tower Bridge in one of the city’s world-famous taxi’s, but I hope to visit it again, this time to take a leisurely walk across and visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, where I understand you can view the old steam engines that once operated the bridge’s massive bascules.