There’s plenty of Tower Bridge trivia out there. Did you know that it once started opening when a bus was driving over it? And remember when Fergie (the singer, not the royal family member) mistook it for London Bridge in her music video? But here’s the real question: why is it blue?
Architectural paint historian Patrick Baty knows a thing or two about palettes. When Tower Bridge was given a fresh lick of paint in 2009, he investigated the bridge’s earlier colour schemes and found that, when it was originally built in 1886, it was a fetching shade of ‘mid-greenish blue’. Over the years, the London attraction has also been dark green and a chic shade of grey.
But how did it get the blue steel look it wears now? The current colour scheme dates back to 1977. ‘The bridge was painted blue, white and red in preparation for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee’ explains Baty. When it had a £4m overhaul 11 years ago the team decided to stick with the longest-standing hue.
If you’re holding out for a bright pink Tower Bridge in future, there’s bad news. For starters, painting a major landmark is a big undertaking; zhuzhing up the bridge requires 22,000 litres of paint, so it’s slightly more involved than just popping to B&Q. And according to Baty, getting even a subtle makeover approved ‘is not easy’. He explains: ‘You have to provide evidence to support the change of colour.’ That requires a ‘full analysis of the paint’ and explaining the benefits of a potential facelift. We’re guessing, ‘It would look good on the ’gram’, wouldn’t really fly.