31 July, 2006

Tower Bridge, London

Not my photo this time. Credit: Lars P Mathiassen
Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 after an Act of Parliament decreed that a river crossing should be built to enable those living in east London to cross the river without having to go upstream to London Bridge. The Act also stated that pedestrians should be able to cross at all times, so an overhead walkway 143 feet above the water was constructed but it had to be closed because of the high incidence of suicide from the bridge.
There is a story that when Lake Havasu City in Arizona purchased the old London Bridge they thought they were buying Tower Bridge. (I will post about that interesting story on another occasion).
The bridge was constructed by building a massive steel frame and dressing it with Cornish granite and Portland stone so that it's appearance matched the nearby Tower of London. Each of the bascules (the part that raises) weighs 1,200 tons and is still raised by the original hydraulic system. It is now powered by oil and electricity but until 1976 it was still steam-powered.
The bridge is synonomous with London and it's iconic status ensures world wide renown. It is still a magnificent sight and a tribute to Victorian engineering skills and civic pride.


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