London's Tower Bridge is one of the city's most widely-known landmarks. A combined bascule and suspension bridge, its mid-section lifts up to allow large ships to pass through.
London Tower Bridge
London Tower Bridge
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About London Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is named after the nearby Tower of London and links the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark, which lie on opposite sides of the River Thames. The City of London is just to the west of Tower Bridge.
Construction of Tower Bridge started in 1886 and took eight years. The complex design combines a suspension bridge with a bascule bridge to allow the mid-section of the bridge to lift up and allow large ships to pass through. Construction of the bridge required 70,000 tons, 11,000 tons of steel and huge amounts of Cornish granite and Portland stone, which was used to clad the framework of the towers.
The bridge sections were originally raised using steam-powered hydraulics. Steam pressure was kept up at all time so that the bridge could be raised in under a minute - remarkable, given its size and weight. Today, the original steam engines are no longer used but remain in position and form part of the Tower Bridge exhibition, a popular tourist attraction.
Tower Bridge still opens for ships today, usually several times a day. Bridge lifts are free for qualifying vessels but they do have to be booked at least 24 hours in advance. Van hire is available in the London Tower Bridge area and a typical selection of vans should be on offer: