Truly one of London’s greatest landmarks since its opening in 1894, Tower Bridge remains one of the city’s most-visited tourist attractions. This is my second visiting the iconic structure, but first time taking the tour that would allow us to go inside Tower Bridge and walk across the pathways connecting the two tower.
We started in the north tower where we took the lift to the top and watched a short video before entering the East Walkway. Small, sliding windows are built into the larger windows along the walkway which is a nice touch for those of us looking to avoid the dreaded window glare in our landscape shots. From this side of the bridge, we could see St Katharine Docks leading to Canary Wharf, but that’s about it. The really spectacular views are on the other side of the bridge.
After checking out the Great Bridges of the World exhibition in the East Walkway, we entered the south tower where we watched another short video before being allowed admittance into the West Walkway. From here, we had a much more scenic view with lots of famous landmarks – St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the Monument, and even a little peek of the London Eye. And scariest, but best part of all was the glass floors – which lets you see views of the roadway, river, and people! Yikes!
VICTORIAN ENGINE ROOMS
Once we completed the West Walkway, there was nowhere to go but down beneath the bridge into the old Victorian Engine Rooms. The mechanisms in these rooms were once in charge of lifting the bridge for ships to pass. They are no longer in use, but simulations show how they once operated. In the boiler room, the water was heated to create the steam (they even recreate the heat and smell in this room), then the steam from that was used to pump the big green wheels (totally technical term) to raise the bascules beneath the walkways. Nowadays, the bridge is raised about 1,000 times a year via electricity, and if you time it right, you can see the bascules raised for yourself.
As if we couldn’t get enough of Tower Bridge, we decided to grab lunch nearby and enjoy more views of one of London’s greatest landmark!