Revered throughout the world as one of the definitive icons of the UK capital, the pseudo-turreted Tower Bridge – designed to echo the ancient fortress just a few steps away from it, with which it partially shares its name – isn’t just a grand structure to stare at or pass under when you visit London, but one you should find the time go inside of too.
Technically speaking, a combined bascule and suspension bridge, opened in 1894, it connects the north and south sides of the River Thames as the latter cuts a tidal swathe through the very heart of London. In fact, the word ‘bascule’ references the two turret-like towers, linked to each another by the pair of horizontal walkways. Now, granted, anyone can observe the bridge’s outside make-up just by glancing at it. But why not do better than that by actually going inside – and, via its terrific exhibition, discovering its towers, its walkways and the mechanical marvels that are the thing’s Victorian engine rooms? Why not indeed!
The fact is; if you have any admiration for the ambitious engineering feats achieved in the Victorian age, then Tower Bridge’s exhibition is something you must check out. It’s jam-packed full of archive film footage, photography and interactivity (great for kids) as it tells the tale of how the structure was conceived and built and of its post-construction history. Plus, of course, it arouses something of a nostalgia kick, taking you back into the era of steam as you get to examine up close the steam engines that, back in the day, powered those bravura bascules. No question then, it’s undoubtedly worth the short journey if you’ve made your base one of the nearby City-located luxury hotels London, such as The Montcalm Brewery hotel on Chiswell Street London.
But, of course, there’s more than just the exhibition – there are also those twin walkways with their newly installed glass floors. What’s so special about these new features? Well, they enable you to take in, as you’re standing there in one of the walkways, just how tall the bridge really does stand. At 11 metres lengthwise and a little less than two metres wide, both glass sections are made up of panels weighing 530kg each, so should you be bold enough to stand on one of them, don’t be nervous; it’ll definitely take your weight!
In the end, though, these glass viewing panels are an awesome addition to the bridge’s interior as they mean you can view all those famous black cabs and red buses passing by below – and, best of all, there’s a chance you may even witness those legendary bascules open beneath you to let river craft through…open sesame! What a sight.