Tower Bridge London is a historical and fascinating English icon and is one of the most famous bridges in the world. It has proudly stood over the River Thames since 1894, connecting the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark together. Meaning that there is no surprise that there would be so many facts about Tower Bridge, London.
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Tower Bridge is one of the prettiest bridges that I have seen in my travels and one of my favourite places to visit in London, especially when I go to the Tower of London England. It still amazes me to this day, how many people mistake Tower Bridge for London Bridge, which is further up the Thames connecting Southwark to the City of London.
Read More – What to do at the Tower of London
Our Top Tower Bridge Facts
Here are some cool facts I have put together to help get you started on your journey over Tower Bridge, London.
Tunnel under the Thames
Before Tower Bridge London was opened to the public, the only way to cross the Thames was through a tunnel underneath the Thames. This was called the Tower Subway and I believe it was 1 penny to cross through the tunnel to each side. This was also a way to monitored the traffic between the two boroughs.
Unfortunately, this tunnel and others were closed down and bridges replaced them. However, there are still two left in London that can be used by the public.
- If you ever want to experience walking under the Thames there is one, which goes from Isle of Dogs to Greenwich. It is called the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and I recommend it as something different to do while in London.
Glass floor in the walkway
The walkways were originally designed to allow pedestrians to cross even while the bridge was raised, but they became hangouts for prostitutes and crime so were closed for a period of time.
These days a glass floor has been installed in the Walkway of the Tower Bridge, which you can walk out on and stand 42 metres above the River Thames. If you are anything like me, l cannot stand on glass and look down as it scares me senseless! Looks really cool though to look up at and see the people.
- Visit the exhibition that is in Tower Bridge and walk across the glass walkway at the same time.
In 1952, a number 78 double-decker bus was crossing Tower Bridge London when the bascules began to rise. Instead of slowing down and stopping, Albert Gunton accelerated and jumped over from the south bascule to the north bascule which had not started to rise yet.
Fortunately, the driver and passengers on board the double decker bus came away with only a few injuries.
- Both the 78 and RV1 still goes over Tower Bridge, as their route path. I can not promise any bridge jumping though.
The 2012 Olympic rings on Tower Bridge
To celebrate the 2012 Olympics being held in London, the Olympic rings were suspended from the Walkway on Tower Bridge. To achieve this, the bascules needed to be fully opened and the bridge was closed both under and over for 12 hours while the 12-tonne rings were put in place.
They did look pretty amazing when they were lit up at night and a sight that most likely won’t be seen again.
River traffic on the Thames takes priority over people or vehicles crossing over Tower Bridge London. However, if you want to go under the bridge with your tall boat and need the bascules to be raised you have to give 24 hours’ notice. This boat, however, didn’t have to worry about bascules being raised (refer to the below picture).
You have to check of course the height restrictions to determine if you need to notify the bridge.
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- If you want some great views of the bascules being raised, then head to the top of The Shard.
Good Luck to see bascules being raised
Its twin towers rise 200 feet (61 metres) above the Thames and provide an opening 250 feet (76 metres) wide. The bascules were originally operated by hydraulic pumps before moving to electric motors.
This is more of a myth than a fact but I thought it was a good one about Tower Bridge London. Apparently, it is a rare occurrence to see the bascules being raised and lowered for ships.
If you witness this happen, you are supposed to receive good luck but I have seen it twice now and I am still waiting for my luck!
- One of the best spots to wait to see if the bascules will raise on Tower Bridge is at the Shard
Discover more of England
⇒ Travelling by train to other parts of England, Wales or Scotland? Then how about the Interrail Great Britain Pass, making train journey’s more convenient. (and you can book your tickets at the same time)
Pubs and Restaurants near Tower Bridge
There are lots of restaurants and pubs around Tower Bridge London that are a good spot for a drink or a bit to eat before or after you have visited the bridge. Here are a few recommendations for both pubs and Restaurants:
- Brasserie Blanc Tower Hill on Trinity Square, close to Tower Hill tube station
- Coppa Club on the Thames with views of Tower Bridge London
- Cantina del Ponte Italian restaurant with views of Tower Bridge
- The Dickens Inn (Historical Pub) is in St Katharine Dock and one of my favourites to visit
- The Horniman at Hay’s situation on the Thames with an outdoor seating area
- The Anchor Tap a typical old English pub in Bermondsey
Thank you for reading my article, ‘Cool facts about Tower Bridge, London England’ I hope it gave you some interesting and fun insight to the history of Tower Bridge London and maybe learnt something new.
Do you know any other facts about Tower Bridge London, England that I could add to the list? I would love to hear your comments below.
How about some of these activities around Tower Bridge London
Disclaimer: All views are my own based on my own experience and research.