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Take a walk across the top of London’s most famous bridge with only glass between you and the Thames, 42 metres below
One of the most famous river crossings in the world, Tower Bridge is actually only 123 years old. Still, the fact that it lifts up in the middle when large vessels are passing underneath makes it an icon that most children probably picture in their minds when singing ‘London Bridge is falling down’.
Planes have flown through it, David Beckham has steered a speedboat underneath it and in 1952 a double-decker bus really did ‘leap’ over the gap when the bridge started to lift without warning.
When it was finally finished in 1894 – working having begun in 1886 – Tower Bridge was steam-powered (seriously) and was considered a miracle of Victorian engineering. In 1974 it underwent a transformation, with an electro-hydraulic system installed, but you can still see the old steam engines inside the bases of the towers with a ticket to the Tower Bridge Experience. This also allows entry to the walkways overhead, where you can take in the stunning views, not just up and down the Thames, but of the road below as well. Since 2014 – the bridge’s 120th year – there’s been an 11-metre glass floor in place of the upper walkway, so those with the stomach for it can gaze 42 metres down, or for something special, take part in a morning yoga class.
Besides engines and walkways, your entry fee also includes an exhibition that honours the other awe-inspiring feats of engineering in global bridge design, as well as an art installation as you descend down the ornate staircase.
In peak visiting hours or during bridge lifts it’s not always easy to guarantee what time you will be able to access the walkways, and the bridge lifts actually take place more often than you’d think. Raising Tower Bridge’s two bascules is a service provided free of charge by the City of London Corporation, 365 days a year, night or day, to the relevant registered boats and ships. On average, Tower Bridge is raised 850 times a year, so next time you’re walking nearby, wait and see what happens, as it’s always a treat to see the bridge go up.
Tower Bridge Rd
|Transport:||Tube: Tower Hill/London Bridge|
|Price:||£9 (online £8), £3.90 (online £3.50) under-16s, £6.30 (£5.65 online) students/over-60s, free under-fives, free disabled/carers, family from £14.10.|
|Opening hours:||Open Apr–Sep 10am–5.30pm (last admission); Oct–Mar 9.30am–5pm (last admission). Closed Dec 24–26. Open 10am–5pm Jan 1.|
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