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."
Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings
Listed At: Grade I
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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