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Tower Bridge (London)

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The Tower Bridge Experience, Tower Bridge, SE1 2UP. Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 3761. Fax: +44 (0)20 7357 7935. E-mail: enquiries@towerbridge.org.uk Open: April-Oct 10am-6.30pm; Nov-March 9.30am-6pm (Last entry 1 1/4hours before closing). Closed:
24-25 Dec

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      03.04.2012 15:43
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      towers over Thames

      Eiffel Tower is the icon for Paris, the Statue of Liberty for New York, the Colosseum - for Rome. London doesn't have one dominant landmark like that, but many of those looking for one would probably pick the Tower Bridge, whose characteristic silhouette is recognised the world over.

      It's not actually, objectively, a beautiful a structure: an eminently Victorian structure, unselfconsciously over-the-top, with mock-Gothic, virtually Baronial castle-like towers and elaborate ornamentation. And yet, it's strangely attractive. I am not sure if it is because it's such a well known building, or because it fits the location so well, but it somehow transcends the Victorian pretentiousness. I am not surprised, however, that early critics called it ''an absurd structure'' and commented on its ''tawdriness''.

      The bridge was built in 1894, in response to the need for an additional crossing in the East End which would still allow tall-masted ships to enter port facilities higher upstream. It is a combined suspension and bascule (draw) bridge, 244m long and with a central span of 61m. Originally, the bascule mechanism was operated by steam engines, this has now been replaced by electric power.

      The towers are 65m high, and the pedestrian walkway is at the level of 44m. These were never popular, as required climbing high stairs and attracted dodgy characters. Closed in 1910, the walkway reopened in 1982 as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, offering displays on the bridge's history and stunning views of the Thames and London spreading on both sides. Not cheap at 8GBP per adult, it's still worth the expense for the way it puts you in touch with the huge, living, breathing, monstrous and wonderful city below.

      But even if you don't want to or can't afford the Exhibition, it's worth coming to see the Bridge, and you get good views up the river from the road level too. The walk along the Thames is very worth doing (in sections, if you want to visit the sights on the way) and the Tower Bridge provides a convenient crossing point, either back to the north from the South Bank, towards the Tower; or from the Tower to the south bank with the City Hall and HMS Belfast. It's also a fairly natural turn-back of a typical touristy-sightseeing loop, with less attractions easily accessible by walking beyond it.

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        08.09.2010 10:18
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        highly recommended

        When you go to central London to a major landmark you expect to pay a lot for very little - how wrong I was!

        As a family of two adults and one child wherever we go the 'Family Ticket' never works for us. Not so here. They offer all sorts of combinations of family ticket which effectively allow for one child free so we only paid for the two adults in our group. This was offered to us without us having to ask and was available to use with the Tesco clubcard vouchers which made it even more affordable.

        We had our photo taken before riding up in the lift with a very informative guide. My husband was a bit reluctant to have the photo taken as they often prove very expencive and I always want to buy it. We were pleasantly suprised with the choice of back grounds and that by buying two, the first at £10, it was only another £2.

        All the staff were friendly and informative. The views from the bridge were amazing as we had gone on a fairly clear day. there are two films about the building of the bridge which really make you appreciate it when you walk over it again.

        Children are encouraged to collect stickers at various points in the tour to make a picture of the bridge. This may have been an activity for this summer holiday.

        For the walk from the south tower to the machine room we were told to walk along the blue line, my 10 year old took this literally and I have a picture of him standing on the blue line! The machinery is in pristine condition and obviously well cared for.

        Another area which usually makes a parent wince is the gift shop; not so here. The souvenirs are reasonably priced and high quality.

        I would recommend this experience to anyone aged 7 to 107 on a clear but not necessarily sunny day. Mobility is not a problem as you do not need to walk up the towers as there is a lift at either end although there are steps leading down to the machine room.

        We spent a couple of very enjoyable hours here. It is well worth a visit and makes it even more special when you see the bridge afterward and be able to say 'I have been right up there!' Well worth a visit.

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        21.03.2010 12:54
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        A good way to spend a couple of hours!

        There's always been mysticism with me and Tower Bridge. I was born in London and had until recently never been inside Tower Bridge or even seen it open. I had to do something about this and rapidly, after all this is one of London's most well known landmarks and a place that I find fascinating.

        Construction of the Bridge began in 1886 and was completed by 1894 when the Bridge was declared open by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The design is unique as the roadway parts and lifts to allow shipping to actually pass through the Bridge without the danger of the masts hitting the road deck. With two towers measuring 213ft in height containing the opening mechanisms called cantilevers at the bottom of each tower, Tower Bridge became an instant landmark by sheer size alone and due to the opening functionality the Bridge became an engineering masterpiece that is still fully operational today, with the exception that it runs from electric rather than steam to raise the cantilevers.

        Even though I've been on the London Eye three times now, I am not the best at heights at all and after paying our entrance fee on the North side of the Bridge were ushered into a lift to go to the Walkways. I decided that my Niece and Nephew, both 12, may enjoy this so trip so decided to take them with my other half and myself. The lift was tight even by today's standards and when we reached the top we were given some remarkable views across the City that looked all the better given that we were higher up than normal. Both Walkways are sheltered from the outside elements so your not actually outside but behind glass, even though it was still quite chilly up there and on the day that we went the wind was blowing.

        On the Western Walkway you look across to the City and along the Thames to the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, on the Eastern side you are afforded views across Wapping and over towards Docklands and the O2. I was amazed at the diversity between the two views with the old and the new in scope and really how different the parts of London actually appear from this height. Along the Walkways at various points are maps detailing what you can see and its just a case of matching up on the picture with what you are looking at as the picture is fully annotated to mark out certain buildings and places and so on. Also information about the use of the Walkways were interesting to read, as I didn't realise that women of a certain profession used to loiter on the Bridge looking for trade, this was a time when the toll to cross via the Walkways was set at a Penny a time.

        At the halfway point along either Walkway you are able to look down onto the road below, you can just see a small crack of light dissecting across from one pavement to another and this is where the cantilevers meet. In fact you just hear the road tyres going across the crack as well. Bear in mind that this is about half a centimetre across but from the walkway it is clearly visible.

        The Bridge has had a number of incidents happen as well, for example the Double Decker Bus that was unable to stop and had to jump the Bridge in 1952 to the more recent Fathers 4 Justice campaign that caused the whole area to be shut to traffic. My personal favourites from these are when President Clinton was stopped from going across by a Bridge lift taking place, yes he was stuck in his limo for the duration, much to the surprise of the public standing next to him on the pavement and in 1968 the RAF Pilot who went under the Bridge in a RAF Hawker Hunter in protest. It says he was later discharged from the RAF on medical terms!

        When we finally managed to drag my Niece and Nephew away from the Telescope, at 20p per time with commentary, we walked for the fifth time towards the South side. To gather some idea as to how the Bridge worked under Steam power to raise the cantilevers we sat through a very informative film that showed us the history of Tower Bridge from construction to present day. This showed in some details the amount of work that was performed to construct the Bridge over eight years, in fact where we were sitting was the top of the South Tower and that was evident in the shaped structure that we could see above our heads, the organisers had even placed a mannequin sitting on a cross section in the structure to give some idea of scale. So we knew how the Bridge worked and so we were off to the Engine Room.

        The Bridge is now connected to a veritable Electricity supply, but used to run under Steam power so the lift took us to Ground Level where we had to do a short walk to go under the Bridge into the Engine Room. I knew this is where the kids would lose interest as I suspected that this was an area that they wouldn't really want to know about at all. However I was surprised to see them reading and looking at everything that was there about Steam and the part it played with Tower Bridge. I was really surprised as they came back to me asking their Uncle Tim how it all worked! So Uncle Tim went through the whole thing with them and thanks to the use of the demonstration devices that show how a built up pressure can be used to lift things then Uncle Tim had successfully done a Tomorrows World on his Niece and Nephew!

        Looking around the other children that were here also were asking questions and by the end of the visit to this area, I got the impression that the kids had learnt something about Victorian engineering and I was happy with that. In fact with my Nephew I think I might have lit a spark as he was reading the books in the Gift Shop and it took us nearly ten minutes to get him out of there and he was still asking questions on the way home. I think it was safe to say that this was job done.

        Overall we all found this a good thing to visit with the Tower Bridge Experience a great thing to do and a place to visit that shows us how an engineering feat like this was accomplished. Today a Bridge wouldn't be designed with cladding and certainly wouldn't be as extravagant as this as new technologies have been introduced which means a more cost effective construction method gets applied and due to that this makes Tower Bridge a unique place to go. I found it will get the kids thinking and will take their mind off the Playstations and Mobile Phones for a while. They were totally fascinated with the way the information was presented and the sheer complexity of the engineering that was used to increase the pressure to raise the Bridge.

        Cost wise it was a snip, Adults just paid £7.00 each. Usually kids are charged £3.00 each, however with a family ticket for £14 the kids go in free anyway, Seniors are £5 and is also fully compliant for any Disabled visitors where Carers go free. The venue does cater for schools and at peak times this is a very busy place to go, however this is also a very enjoyable experience and you do come out learning something about one of London iconic places.

        http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/

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          03.05.2009 12:18
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          Well worth a visit for the view alone!

          Last weekend my brood (me, hubby, three teenagers) together with my Mother and her Godson, who is 23 and very very autistic, went to London for the Marathon weekend. We were staying near to Tower Bridge so found ourselves wandering over this famous London landmark once or twice!

          Gerard, who is, as mentioned above, autistic, wanted to go inside the bridge, so we decided to do the "Tower Bridge Experience".

          Gerard and my Mother were able to get in for free - there is no charge for disabled visitors and their carers, and I bought a family ticket for the five of us, that cost £17.50, so it was not an overly expensive visit. Mum had to queue at the cash desk for their tickets to prove eligability for the free tickets, but there was no queue to speak of, despite it being a Saturday afternoon, and this surprised me a little. I bought my tickets with a debit card at one of the ticket machines, and this was very easy and straightforward.

          We then sent our bags through the scanning machine, and went up in a lift to the top part of the bridge.

          In the first of the "towers" we took a seat and watched a short film about the design and some of the history of the bridge. This lasted just a few minutes and was very clear, with just enough techical stuff for those that wanted, yet certainly not complicated and therefore suitable for the youngsters as well. The length of the film was just right to prevent people getting restless and leaving before it finished.

          This area had a small display of pictures depicting the building of the bridge - technical plans etc, and everything had clear, easy to read descriptions that people of all ages and abilities would be able to read. In particular, I felt that the language element was simple enough for foreign tourists with limited English to get the gist of what was being explained.

          After the film, we ambled across the walkways - there are two, and you can wander along both, taking in the amazing views of the Thames and across London. There are binoculars if you want - but these cost £1 to use, and we did not feel they were necessary - it was a clear day, and we could see a very long way. The walkways are lined on one side with displays of other bridges from around the world, and allowing you an uninterrupted view from the other side, so you can choose which you prefer to see at any time.

          After a gentle stroll and some nice views of London from the walkways, we went into the second tower for another short film, continuing the history of the bridge. We discovered that despite there being no health and safety rules or equipment at the time the bridge was built, only 10 people died in the whole project - I think that is pretty amazing given the underwater work that was done at the time!

          Again, this film was short, clear, and just about right for all audiences.

          Gerard, like many autistic people, can get frustrated and fidgety quite easily, but everything we encountered held his attention - and I think this is a really good measure of how the Tower Bridge Experience works.

          There are staff about to keep the visitors moving from area to area, meaning nothing feels crowded, and equally you don't feel rushed through - they do a very good job in my opinion.

          After the second film, we headed back down to the "ground floor" where the next port of call was the Engine Room. Neither me nor my mum fancied this too much, so we let the boys go off to look at the huge steam engines and marvel at machinery, while we took advantage of one of the many coffee shops and bistros nearby for a drink.

          Finally, there is the usual "souvenir shop" at the end, which we successfully bypassed but if you want a keepsake pencil, it is there if you want it.

          All in all, we spent about an hour and a half at Tower Bridge, which for us, with Gerard, was just about right - but you could whizz through it in half that time if you wanted to, or could extend it to a good couple of hours if you felt the need.

          Having visited once, I don't feel the need to visit again for the educational side of things, but I would be quite happy to go up on the walkways to look at the view again.

          As for the pricing - well, I cannot fault it overall, especially because Gerard and my mum got in for free, so overall between the seven of us that visited, it cost us £17.50......but of course prices differ depending on the number in your party, and it is worth looking at the website on

          www.towerbridge.org.uk

          to find out the prices appropriate to you.

          This attraction is open year round, closed only on Christmas day and Boxing day.

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            22.02.2009 22:59
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            Doesnt do it for me

            Tower Bridge isnt really what I would call a tourist attraction, as all it is is a bridge, but for some reason, there is always people lining the road taking pictures. For tourists, it amazes them that this bridge can break it two. It seems to me, that this attraction is more than it is worth. Everyone has seen it, the four big towers, which some people dont know that you can actually go inside and have look, and the metal lines that connect them. I have never seen this bridge actually split in two for myself, but has done on TV, and it does look amazing. I dont know how they do it, but it is brilliant mechanics. It is a great landmark for London, and the river wouldnt look the same without it, so maybe it is worth something, but like I said, to me it is a bridge and always will be just a bridge.

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              06.08.2008 02:16

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              There are a host of monuments to the excellence of the Victorian engineers and one example is Tower Bridge over the Thames in London. Often overlooked by those visiting the Tower itself next door it is well worth adding to your itinerary in London.

              It is easily reached by the London Underground its station of Tower Hill being on both the Circle and District Lines.
              When I first visited the bridge many years ago there was not much to see. The presentation information then was quite limited though it was possible to see the workings of the bridge. Nowadays though there is a series of exhibitions and models which tell the story of the bridge from its building and completion in the 1890s through the various incidents of bombing in the war through to the present day.

              How the bridge is opened and closed is explained and though the original steam powered engines are no longer used the original displacement weights are. You also walk over the walkway above the Thames as you complete your tour which starts on the North side of the river.
              The bridge is a monument which represents Britain itself. Microsoft even chose it as the emblem within its software as a pictorial representation of what the UK is. At £6.25 for adults and £4.25 for concessions though it is a bit pricey for what it is and many children may find it less stimulating than for example the Tower itself. If you see everything and take your time you will probably not be there for more than an hour and a half.

              There is a gift shop for your obligatory Tower Bridge pencil and eraser and plenty of pictures of the worlds most famous bridge. I do not know what Horace Jones the designer of the bridge would make of having thousands of people walk around his bridge but his design will probably remain for at least another hundred years or more.
              The Bridge is open every day except at Christmas and is accessible for the disabled.

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              26.10.2001 21:25
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              Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge is an excellent example of Victorian engineering. Not to be mistaken for London Bridge, which is the rather artless and featureless bridge just down river, Tower Bridge was constructed to fulfill a requirement that had arisen for a new permanent crossing for the Thames river. In fact, the booming success of London at the time, due largely to it's expansion as a major world trading port, meant that a bridge on that part of the Thames had to be unique, in that it could both cope with the increased river traffic and the 50% increase in London's population that occured under Queen Victoria's reign during the latter half of the 18th century. Prior to 1894 there had been no river crossing east of London Bridge at all. It was therefore decided that something had to be done and Tower Bridge was the result. Not counting the many years of debate and planning, Tower Bridge took a full eight years to construct and soon became known as the Wonder Bridge. It's construction was unique and was the largest bridge of it's type ever constructed. It's use of hydraulic power to raise the immense bascules that allowed river traffic to pass, had never been used on such a scale. Each bascule weighs a staggering 1200 tons, which when required, take just 1 minute to rise to their full position. The official opening of the bridge was on the 30th June 1894 and at the time of it's most prominent use, the bascules of London Bridge would have risen 20 or so times a day, often at only a moments notice. These days, however, they are rarely used at all and are only raised on average just fifteen times per week and this is only when given 24 hours notice! The decline in use is primarily due to the major increase of ship size that took place during the later half of the 20th century. During the 2nd World War when London was being blitzed on a nightly basis, the Bridge only suffered a minor amount of damage. Many
              other London landmarks suffered direct hits from bombs and the Tower of London that is sited on the bank of the Thames, next to the bridge was hit 15 times during the war. Originally built for horse-draw carriages and the like, the bridge is still in full use today, by much of London's more modern and much heavier vehicles. The Bridge is well worth a visit, with talks and animatronic shows on each level that detail the history of the bridge and London itself.. It wasn't until 1982 that Tower Bridge opened as a tourist attraction and the high level walkways, 140 feet above the Thames, were also reopened to the public for the first time in 72 years. The walkways give stunning panoramic views for miles across London, both up and down river and from here you can see Canary Wharf that contains London's tallest building which was blown up by terrorists in 1996. In the distance you can also make out The London Eye, the worlds largest ferris wheel and St Paul's Cathedral, home to many a royal wedding. Near to the bridge itself are HMS Belfast, a 2nd World War battle cruiser and The Tower Of London. HMS Belfast is worth a visit if you have time. Having served throughout the 2nd world war and playing a prominent part of the Normandy landings. The Tower of London's history is varied and somewhat sinister. Having had many diferent functions; from Palace to place of execution and now the home of the famous Crown Jewels, it is said that if the ravens ever leave the grounds, England will fall! There is much to see and do in the vicinity of Tower Bridge it is easy to spend an entire day in the area. There are many good quality bars and restaurants along the banks of the river and plenty of atmosphere to take in. (taken from my website: www.bruleo.co.uk)

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                20.09.2001 07:37
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                Tower Bridge is one of the nice examples of the architecture of Victorian Period. It was built in 1894. It is the symbol of London. Owing to special mechanism, it can lift its main road for the ship when necessary. If you want, you can join the special activity called Tower Bridge Experience. In this experience, firstly you will watch a film about the Tower Bridge History, which is extremely boring. You may look forward to going up on the top of the bridge. There is nothing interesting in this experience is the London and river view at the top of the bridge. You will climb up 300 hundred steps in order to go to the top of the bridge. But if you think the top of the bridge is open and you can take some photos up there, you may be disappointed like I did. It was covered by glass and you cannot take photo because of it. It is a big misfortune because the view is really amazing. You can see London Dungeon just beside the river. In Tower Bridge Experience, after going to the top, the guide will take you down to where the mechanism of the Tower Bridge is. you will also have opportunity to see the mechanism which lifted the road until 1976. Since then the system has worked with electricity. To cut it short, I suggest you to see the Tower Bridge but don’t suggest you to join Tower Bridge experience. I think it was boring and even you won’t be able to enjoy the best part because the top is not open. However, if you say, I must see the view at the top, join the event then. You can use underground to go to the bridge.( Tower Hill - District & Circle Lines, London Bridge - Northern & Jubilee Lines ) OPENING TIMES April to October: 10.00am-6.30pm November to March: 9.30am-6.00pm (Last entry 1 1/4hours before closing) Adult: £6.25 Student : £4.25

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                  10.09.2001 23:54
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                  Tower Bridge is the most easterly of the main London bridges and the best way to reach it is via the London Underground. The nearest stop is Tower Hill, which is on the Circle and District lines and is next to Tower Gateway on the Docklands Light Railway. The area around the Tower and Tower Bridge is also one of the stops used by all the London tour buses, so this would be another convenient way of getting there. I have often seen Tower Bridge when we have visited London and have even seen it open to let ships through, but had never actually been inside until last year. The Tower Bridge Experience as the tour is called has only been open for a relatively short while so it was time to pay a proper visit to one of London’s best loved monuments. The cost of the tour is £6.25 for adults and £4.25 for concessions. It sounds a bit expensive but providing you have the time to make the most of the tour, which lasts about an hour and a half, it is well worth it. The tour takes you through various rooms which house exhibitions and models, which are used in the telling of the story of the bridge from its building and completion in the 1890s to the present day. In each room there is seating and once everyone is settled the lights are dimmed and various mechanical characters tell the story of the bridge stage by stage. One room has a model of a builder explaining how they used to work, in what conditions and what the various dangers were. Another room has a mock up on screen of the council meeting, which discussed which of the various plans of bridges to decide which they would accept and build. There are models of the main contenders for the contract in this room too. There is also an explanation of how the bridge is opened and closed using the original displacement weights and the tour takes you down to see the workings of the bridge. You then go into a room supposedly below the end of the bridge
                  and there is a mock up of an emergency needing the bridge to be closed and you see the great weighted end of the bridge swinging down into the room! You also walk over the walkway at the top of the bridge 140 feet above the River Thames, where the views are magnificent in all directions, particularly across Docklands. Although the walkway is enclosed there are windows and sets of steps to climb up to get a good view and maybe a photographs or two. As you return to the starting point of the tour there is the obligatory gift shop where you can get your mementoes of the tour. The bridge is open from 10 in the morning until 6.30 in the evening from April to October and from 9.30 in the morning until 6 in the evening from November to March. The last entry is one and a quarter hours before closing time as the tour takes at least that long. I’m not sure how interested children would be on the tour as there is a lot of sitting and listening at various stages along the way, so be aware of this before you part with your cash!

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                    27.10.2000 02:00
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                    You can't miss Tower Bridge, you know its the one full of Americans/Japanese/German tourists all milling about with their cameras and camcorders. What you may not know is that you can get right inside this victorian landmark and explore what makes it tick, or rather, lift. The Tower Bridge experience takes you throught the twin towers of the bridge, and via an interactive, computer generated,gizmo packed, presentation tells you all about the competition to design it, the bridge's construction and its inner workings. The raised walkway, between the towers, also affords a great view over the river Thames and the City of London. There is a rather cheesy little show at the end, but all in all a good afternoon's entertainment

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