Tower Bridge

Did you know that you can go up the inside of Tower Bridge and walk across the top?

We didn’t but when Ash saw an advert on Instagram the other week he was eager to go and do just that. So here is what we found…

Back in October before the Lockdown kicked back in, we had a day out, we have already told you about our visit to the Sky Garden, but before that we visited one of London’s most iconic of all structures.

Tower Bridge was built in 1886-1994 and was created to allow traffic to pass across the Thames but further East past the Port of London Docks and save people having to travel all the way down to London Bridge and ten back again.

But the problem was that the world’s busiest port and the docks were past the proposed site (next to the Tower of London) and so any bridge build would have to be higher than the top of the tall masts of the sailing ships and that was too high.

So instead a Caisson counterweighted road bridge was proposed that would allow the road to lift and ships to continue to sail along the Thames and into the Port of London and in 1894 that very structure opened to the public and traffic finally travelled north and south and relieved the traffic and still does today.

Tall ships passed through the uprights and workers still managed to get from North to South and back again while the ships passed through even with the road caissons raised, how? Well that was what we learnt on our visit.

You have probably never even taken notice of the walkways at the top of the bridge, cased in pale blue and white iron, but those steel walkways have been updated and in 2016 a glass floor was installed in one walkway, which allows visitors to stand in free space and look down to the road 70 metres below and watch pedestrians and cars passing underneath, mostly oblivious to us standing high above.

But to get to that walkway there is just one problem, well 220 problems really, as in 220 stairs, or is that 22,200 stairs, it certainly felt like it to us, not because of the cardio workout of walking up so many stairs, more the pounding on our rather damaged knees (as reported previously).

But once up and once across the glass floor it was down the other side and more stairs! We wandered along the road and found ourselves in the engine room, watching the reconstructed Engines that once raised those counterweighted sections of road – these days the actual engines that raise the road are not accessible, but there are special tours and maybe we will get a chance to go back and see that, once we are allowed to go out again (if that ever happens!).

So what did we think of our visit in and up the Blue Bridge?

Ash – I’ve always wanted to go up there and it’s a little bit touristy and there isn’t that much to see – I had hoped to see the Caisson weights and the engines in action, but that’s for another time.

Bob – STAIRS, NO MORE STAIRS! I liked the see through floor section though and the views were impressive and the lead glass in the windows, these are quite pretty.

The building is quite pretty and the iron work is really what gives it all its strength and the views are quite impressive, it’s just that’s all there isn’t that much to do in there, apart from stairs and a glass floor.

So is it worth going? Well it’s probably worth it if you can time it with a bridge lift and then it’ll be better to book a visit to the Caisson Room and have those enormous weights swing over your head and see all that, otherwise, it’s alright if you like stairs.

Have you been? what did you think? Did you know you can go inside the iconic structure? Plan your visit for after Lockdown, here!

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