Tower Bridge

By the last decades of the 19th century, London desperately needed a bridge to the east of the City, but the main problem was how to build a bridge that would not prevent shipping from using the Upper Pool.

An early postcard of Tower Bridge.
View full size imageAn early postcard of Tower Bridge. © NMM
The chosen solution was a bascule bridge designed by Horace Jones. Instead of a fixed roadway, Jones' bridge was to contain two bascules, which could be raised to allow even the largest vessels to pass. At each end, a huge steel tower was to house the lifting gear for the bascules. Above the bascules, two fixed walkways were built to allow pedestrians to cross the tower.

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
View full size imageThe Tower of London and Tower Bridge. © NMM
To allay fears that such a modern design would look out of place so close to the Tower of London, the towers were to be covered with a neo-Gothic facade of Portland stone, complete with pinnacles and other decorations.

The work began in 1886 and took eight years to complete. Tower Bridge opened in June 1894. Once it was opened, all the early fears and controversies were soon forgotten, and the bridge soon became a much-loved symbol of London.