Tower Bridge is a London bridge with a longstanding iconic status. Since it was built in 1886, Tower Bridge has become one of the most defining landmarks in London and represents a stage of Victorian innovation that’s remnants still stand all across the city today. Located close to the Tower of London, – hence the name – Tower Bridge is easy to reach for guests of spa hotels London via Tower Hill station.
If you’re planning on giving it a visit and want to learn a little bit more about this iconic landmark, these fascinating facts about Tower Bridge could elevate your visit and teach you a little bit more about London history.
The Design Was Decided by A Competition
This is not entirely true and gets a little bit complicated once you dig into the details. When it was decided that a bridge was to be built between Bermondsey and Tower Hill, a competition was opened to architects. More than 50 designs were presented but none were ever decided due to the specificities of a bascule bridge, which had been chosen as the optimum design for the kind of traffic expected to run across the bridge.
And One of The Judges Won!
Eventually the competition was abandoned due to the fact that none of the bridge designs produced the requirements needed. The design that guests of the Montcalm Marble Arch London see today are the result of one of the judges, Sir Horace Jones, originally passed on designs. This design was modified by engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry to fit the requirements.
River Crossings Before Tower Bridge
Due to the rapid development and urbanisation of East London, more than a million people lived east of London Bridge. Tower Bridge’s location was decided due to its proximity to the area of East London with the most commerce and homes and the bridge had to be built high enough to accommodate passing boats into what was once London’s port district in the Docklands. There was a growing need for a new river crossing, before Tower Bridge only Putney Bridge, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge existed, none of which could accommodate larger ships beneath it.
Its Colour Was Chosen as Camouflage
Queen Victoria loved chocolate, and chocolate brown was allegedly one of her favourite colours. Tower Bridge was originally painted chocolate brown but was changed to “battleship grey” before WW2 as camouflage. In 1977 the bridge was painted again, this time in the red, white and blue colours that it still boasts today. This last paint job took place in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee.
The Upper Walkway Was Once A Crime Hotspot
If you were on your way back across the bridge from the West End or restaurants near Marble Arch in the early 20th and late 19th centuries, you’d have to be very cautious crossing Tower Bridge. The upper walkways of the bridge had no elevator, and so were rife with crime. Nowadays, these upper walkways are part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which has installed an elevator and rebuilt the upper walkway, 42 metres above sea level, with a glass floor! Though you’ll no longer be in danger of a robbery, you might be in danger of vertigo.