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Tower Bridge (London)
Member Name: hypno06
Tower Bridge (London)
Advantages: Suitable for all ages and abilities. Reasonably priced.
Disadvantages: Not interactive.
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
to find out the prices appropriate to you.
This attraction is open year round, closed only on Christmas day and Boxing day.
Summary: Well worth a visit for the view alone!