A boat going under the raised bascules of Tower bridge London England cool facts History

Cool Facts About the Tower Bridge in London England

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.

Looking across the Thames at Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge and the Tower of London on the Thames – London England

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.

Facts about Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge from river walk along the Thames – London England

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.

Top Tip

  • 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. 
looking up at one of the bridges towers
Walking on Tower Bridge, looking up London England

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.

Top Tip

  • Visit the exhibition that is in Tower Bridge and walk across the glass walkway at the same time.  
Sundial at St Katherine Dock with Tower Bridge in background
The view of  Tower Bridge from St. Katharine Docks, London England

Double-decker jumping

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.

Read More – A Palace fit for a King, Hampton Court Palace, England


Fortunately, the driver and passengers on board the double decker bus came away with only a few injuries.

Top Tip

  • Both the 78 and RV1 still goes over Tower Bridge, as their route path. I can not promise any bridge jumping though.
Bus 78 going over Tower Bridge, London England

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.

Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge
Standing on the bridge looking up at the Olympics Rings Tower Bridge, London

River Traffic

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.

Days out from London Bodiam Castle England History Read More – Bodiam Castle – England

Top Tip:

  • If you want some great views of the bascules being raised, then head to the top of The Shard.
tourist boat heading under Tower Bridge, London
Watching the boats go under Tower Bridge, London

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!

Top Tip

  • One of the best spots to wait to see if the bascules will raise on Tower Bridge is at the Shard
View from the Shard of boat going under Tower Bridge
The view from the Shard of Tower Bridge – London England

Discover more of England

If you are interested in discovering more of England, or Historyfeel free to read my following articles. All are great options for groups of friends or family, especially who love the outdoors.

⇒ 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) 

Mel B taking a picture of Tower Bridge
Admiring the view of Tower Bridge – London England

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:





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.

“This post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you if you click on one of the product links, we may earn a commission.”  For further details, you can view our Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions or contact me directly. 

Melbtravel logo

You may also like

Please feel free to share

36 thoughts on “Cool Facts About the Tower Bridge in London England

    • melbtravel
      melbtravel says:

      I concur :-), I always find it interesting to learn something new about a famous landmark. I never knew about the tunnel under the Thames.

  1. Pingback: London Old Docks - Historic Pub, Food & Beer Tour - MelbTravel

  2. Avatar
    Jane McCartney says:

    I am a huge fan of facts and l love this post. I never knew about the bus jumping the bridge. That would of been scary.

  3. Avatar
    Gina Coman says:

    Fascinating tidbits, looking forward to reading more of your articles and sharing passion for London architecture with my son.

  4. Avatar
    Janette goldsmith says:

    I love history facts and this was a fun read. I came across after reading your Tower of London post. Both great post and beautiful pictures.

  5. Avatar
    Mary T says:

    I love history facts especially about iconic architecture. What a great fact finder, who ever knew that there was a tunnel under the Thames that you can still walk through.

  6. Avatar
    Jeremy says:

    Nicely written ! Like your wittg writing and you included anecdotes everywhere. One thing I learned from your post is the underground tunnel ! I’ll be sure to check it out !

  7. Avatar
    Cynthia says:

    I love the idea of walking underneath and will definitely seek out the Greenwich Foot Tunnel on my next visit! I’ve always found bridges fascinating – their architecture, in general, is astounding, as it thinking about how they were built, plus so many, like the Tower Bridge, are beautiful besides!

  8. Avatar
    Michelle says:

    Great facts! I love history as well and most of my travel is dictated by historical places. I loved seeing the tower bridge when I was in London but I’m not sure about standing on the glass, that would be too much haha.

  9. Avatar
    Danik says:

    Fantastic post but you forgot the MOST famous story behind this amazing bridge. Many moons ago some town in AZ or was it in Texas wanted to buy this bridge. They went to our government and said they wanted to buy ‘London Bridge’. We said yes! We sold them London Bridge and tore it down stone by stone and shipped it over to the states. When they built it, the locals didnt get what they wanted. We sold them the orginial London Bridge and NOT Tower Bridge. 😛 (and we replaced London Bridge to which it still stands today). If the Americans asked us to buy Tower Bridge I think we would have said bugger off! 😀

  10. Avatar
    Tara says:

    I agree with you. The tower bridge is one of the loveliest I’ve seen! I did not realize that the opening and closing of the bascules was so rare. Must be rare that really tall ships come through these days. Also, in regards to the previous commenter – I actually visit the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ in the winters. It’s where my dad lives. The town was created out of nothing in the desert back in the 70s, and the London Bridge is its big tourist attraction…

  11. Avatar
    Ann says:

    I’ve been to the London airport dozens of time but never actually visited the City, it’s on my list of places for next year, so definitely saving this.

  12. Avatar
    Michael Hodgson says:

    Love the Tower Bridge … and as a lad who spent a lot of time in London while (or whilst) growing up, remember its sister bridge, now in Arizona, the London Bridge. Yeah, that old. 😉 Such fun facts … knew all but the double decker story. That would have been quite the sight to see, a double decker hurtling over the opening bridge.

  13. Avatar
    Zoya says:

    What an interesting read! I’ve been to London before and the London Bridge was one if the most beautiful spots in the city for me. I’ve never heard of any of these facts, so this was really informative. The bus jumping sounds insane though! I’m definitely NOT interested in seeing or taking part in that! Lol!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.