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Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 9, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
A100 (Tower Bridge Road) Over River Thames
Location
London: Greater London, England: United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Suspension, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1894 By Builder/Contractor: Sir William Arrol and Company of Glasgow, Scotland and Engineer/Design: John Wolfe Barry

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1977
Main Span Length
100 Feet (30 Meters)
Structure Length
880 Feet (268 Meters)
Roadway Width
21 Feet (6.4 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

View Historical Lecture By John Wolfe Barry

View Historical History of The Tower Bridge

View Historical Book About The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. Beyond its fame as an iconic symbol of London, it is also significant for its incredibly unique design and architectural detailing which includes an unusually configured braced suspension approach spans, a main bascule span, and an overhead walkway above the bascule. The bridge is also notable as the first "modern" bascule bridge. This bridge's fixed trunnion bascule design was the inspiration for engineers for the city of Chicago, Illinois who adapted the core design of the bascule span for their use and went on to build more bascule bridges in the city than can be found in any other city in the world. Indeed, the fixed trunnion bascule became one of the top two types of bascule bridge in the world (with the rolling lift being the other popular type). Fixed trunnion bascule bridges continue to be built today.

Please refer to the historical texts above for a more complete and detailed discussion of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer large photo galleries for this bridge. The detail gallery is of particular note, since while this may be one of the most-photographed bridges in the world, many visitors may not stop to consider the intricate details of this bridge. Photo-documentation of these overlooked details was the goal of the gallery. Currently the galleries do not include photos from the inside of the upper walkway, or the interior of the machinery and accumulator rooms, which are open for public tour during business hours.

While the UK is well-known for taking excellent care of its historic bridges, the Tower Bridge is particularly remarkable. As of 2018, despite the heavy traffic this bridge sees, the historic integrity is outstanding. Even parts of the bridge one might expect to be replaced and modern remain of riveted construction and thus are either original or at least many decades old. There was no evidence of widespread replacement of rivets with bolts. There was no evidence of major pack rust or section loss in the steel. Even the deck stringers on the bridge are riveted (original?).

Above: This historical drawing shows the fixed trunnion design of the bascule span. The toothed rack is hidden within the main towers of the bridge. The trunnion is labeled as the "main pivot."

Above: A photo showing the bridge in its raised position. Photo Credit: Mvkulkarni23, CC BY-SA 3.0

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade I

Discussion:

List Entry Number: 1385980 and 1357515

TOWER BRIDGE ROAD 636-1/2/793 Tower Bridge (that part that lies 06/12/49 within the Borough of Southwark) 1886-94. By Sir John Wolfe Barry, engineer and Sir Horace Jones, architect. For the City Corporation. Low level bascule bridge with wider side spans hung from curved lattice girders; central narrower opening section. Steel structure with twin Gothic towers rising from 21.3m (70ft) broad piers which support the bascules and house their counter balances. Towers clad in rock-faced stone with ashlar dressings; high pitched slate roofs behind stone battlemented parapet. High level footbridges between the towers, incorporating ties between the 2 suspended spans and linking whole bridge together as continuous structure. Tower of 4 stages with corner turrets surmounted by pinnacles. Some architectural detailing added after Jones's death. Above archway, elaborate Gothic-style windows on each level surmounted by dormer feature in roof; moulded string courses between floors. Lower approach tower (with twin on north side), in similar Gothic style and with a large elliptical archway spanning the road. Although the bascules were electrified in 1976, some of the hydraulic machinery by Armstrong Mitchell & Co., and the steam pumping engines, are preserved under the south approach viaduct. Built onto east side of southern approach are accumulator tower and chimney stack (qv). See also London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

TOWER BRIDGE EC3 & E1 4431 Tower Bridge (That part in London Borough of Tower Hamlets) TQ 3380 21/722 I GV 2. Opened 1894. Designed by Sir John Wolfe Barry with architectural features by Sir Horace Jones. Bascule bridge with suspended bridge approach and high level footbridges between twin stone towers. French chateau influence. Massive cast iron balustrades. Hydraulic machinery still used to open bridge. The rest of the bridge is in Southwark LB.

Tower Bridge and its approach form a group with the London Hydraulic Power Co Subways Entrance, 8 Bollards outside the main entrance to The Tower of London, the Tower itself, the Queens Stairs, Tower Hill.


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Cast Iron

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Tower Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Tower Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

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Ordnance Survey Maps (UK Only)


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