Even though I saw Tower Bridge the first time I was in London, I never actually went on it. I decided to remedy that situation when I was in London for a second time.
Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894 as a gateway to the Pool of London, which had been a major trading center for the city. It is probably the world’s most famous drawbridge and it even used to have high-level walkways to allow people to walk across when the bridge was raised. In 1982, the inside of the bridge opened up to the public for the first time since 1910 with the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition allows you to go up into one of towers and cross a walkway to the other while learning a little about the bridge’s history and life on the Thames in general. Your ticket also allows you to go to the Victorian engine rooms that is located by the gift shop. A ticket to the Tower Bridge Exhibition is £9 (~$13.60 USD), though you can get £1 off if you buy online. I ended up getting a joint ticket for the Tower Bridge Exhibition and The Monument for £10.50 (~$15.87 USD). You can read more about The Monument in my next post.
After a quick elevator ride up the tower, you exit into a room where a guide talks to the group a little about the bridge’s history. Before the bridge was built, a design competition was launched to find the best solution for building the bridge without disrupting the river traffic that was already in place. City Architect Horace Jones and engineer John Wolfe Barry ended up with the chosen design in 1884.
The room leads out to one of the walkways to the other tower and you can see some cool panoramas of either side of the bridge. The other walkway can be accessed by just continuing onto the second tower and entering from there. Both walkways have different information boards and some videos that you can check out as well.
Tower Bridge recently installed a section of glass floors in the walkways, so you can see cars and pedestrians traveling underneath. It’s also a cool place to see the bridge being raised for taller ships to pass through.
There isn’t really much to see in the other tower going down and it eventually just leads you outside. There are signs that help you find the engine room and you use the same ticket from the tower for admission.
The engine room is pretty cool and gives you information about how the bridge used to be powered during the Victorian era. The bascules of the bridge used to be raised using a hydraulic system that relied on steam. Today, oil and electricity are used to power the engines instead. The original engines are now on display to the public.
I actually rushed through the engine room a little because I wanted to catch a bridge lift that was scheduled to happen soon. They post bridge lift times at the ticket office and online, so it’s pretty easy to figure out when a tall boat is coming through. I thought it was a pretty cool thing to watch and it’s basically like a free show that lasts a few minutes. A lot of people lined the edge of the sidewalk by the river to watch the bascules raise and come down again.
After that was over, I started walking towards The Monument for the other half of my joint ticket.