May 2019. Forty years old, born in London and I’d never actually crossed Tower Bridge! What a scandal, but at least one I was finally putting to bed on this grey, chilly morning in the English capital. The Fairy was captivated the moment she saw it and, having also clocked the nearby London Bridge, felt a bit perplexed as to how entirely ordinary the latter looked in comparison. “Why isn’t it Tower Bridge is falling down?” I didn’t know the answer to this, but we both conceded that if something absolutely had to fall down, it shouldn’t be Tower Bridge. So maybe the London Bridge song was fine just the way it was.
May 2019. I wasn’t content with simply a walk across Tower Bridge. I figured we should get the whole experience, so we headed into the office to pick up tickets for both the Victorian engine rooms and The Tower Bridge Exhibition housed in the glass floor walkways running off the two towers.
May 2019. Tower Bridge was opened to the public in 1894 and naturally things kick off with some amazing archive photos of the big old thing being built, along with an original souvenir poster advertising its opening. The Prince and Princess of Wales (less cuddly than Diana and Charles) were in attendance that day looking regal and glaring humourlessly at all the excited onlookers.
As you’d expect the highlight of the engine rooms is the original machinery that kept it running back in the day. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of all this stuff, but it was very cool to see those old engines, coal burners and accumulators, along with archive photos and stories of the people who worked so tirelessly to maintain Tower Bridge.
After the Victorian Engine Rooms it’s time to climb up onto the bridge itself, see the old lady up close and enjoy fine views over The River Thames. That’s City Hall (home to the mayor’s offices) and The Shard on the left.
Also look out for the control cabin where, at scheduled times each day, the bridge opens up to allow vessels to pass through. You can check out the daily lift times here: https://www.towerbridge.org.uk/lift-times/
To get to the glass floor walkways follow the signs and take the elevator up. If you’re feeling nervy about walking over the glass fear not, you can skirt around the sides for even better Thames views. Cleverly the walkway also has a mirror ceiling for those looking to lie on the glass and get artsy selfies.
There are more photos and info boards to dive into up here. I was particularly taken by the section showing Tower Bridge in the Movies, which includes Trainspotting, Bridget Jones’s Diary, An American Werewolf in London and, pictured above, the 1966 comedy drama Alfie starring Michael Caine and Shelley Winters.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition is open daily from 09:30-17:00. A standard adult ticket goes for £9.80, kids at £4.20. There are however a bunch of offers, combo tickets and concessions, so maybe click here for more: https://www.towerbridge.org.uk/opening-hours/
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