Contemporaries called it The Wonder Bridge, today it is better known as Tower Bridge. Since it opened in 1894 it has been an iconic part of London. The walkways were originally open to the public but as they become notoriously associated with prostitutes and pick-pockets, the were closed down. Late last year, renovations to the exhibition were completed which saw the opening of new glass walkways. As part of my Christmas present, I got tickets to visit.
When you arrive you are squished into a lift which takes you up the North tower. To introduce you, you can watch an introductory film, narrated by the architect, the engineer and Queen Victoria. This would be great for children, but I wish there had just been something I could have read instead. You then walk out onto the first walkway, unfortunately on this side the glass walkway was covered. I’m not sure if this is the one that embarrassingly broke within a few weeks – somewhat unnerving! (article about it here) Along the walkways is a small exhibition on impressive bridges from all over the world.
The second walkway looks out to West London and so presents a far more exciting view. It was on this side that the glass walkway was open too which was great; half looking over the murky Thames, half watching all the traffic speed past. Back in the South tower there is another film that gives more detail about the actual construction of the bridge. This is far more interesting than the first film as it skips a lot of the rubbish that the first one includes. It also tells you about some of the rejected designs of the bridge, many of which were pretty bonkers. The final part of the exhibition is the engine room which displays the original Victorian engines. The mechanics went over my head a little but they certainly looked impressive.
For only a little bit more, you can get a joint ticket to the Monument which is not for the faint hearted. After about 300 spiral steps you pop up amongst the rooftops of London, albeit somewhat dizzy and out of breath. The view isn’t the best of London but it unique. We timed it perfectly as the sun was setting.