To deal with increased business in the city, it was determined that another bridge was required across the Thames, but a street-level crossing was out of the question as it would cut off all the ships sailing into London’s ports. The design of the new bridge was going to have to be much more creative and technologically ambitious.
Here are five facts about Tower Bridge…
Closing the gap
Construction on Tower Bridge began in 1887, following a public competition to find a design – the winner was Sir Horace Jones (who was one of the judges). It took eight years, five major contractors and 432 workers to complete.
Just before building started, renowned engineer George Stevenson took over the project and gave it a more Victorian Gothic aesthetic. He hoped this would complement the nearby Tower of London.
Don’t look down
Today, the footbridges are popular among tourists, especially since glass walkways were installed in 2014. In the early years, however, the pedestrian crossings were used less and in 1910, they were closed altogether as they became haunts for pickpockets and prostitutes.
Red means stop
Originally, guards on either side of the 76-metre bridge would signal each other using red semaphore signals, or lights at night. If it was foggy, they may use a gong as well.
In 1952, the bridge began to raise while the Number 78 bus was still crossing. Its driver, Albert Gunton, accelerated and jumped the vehicle from one bascule to the other.
This article was first published in the Christmas 2015 issue of History Revealed