Recently discovered, somewhat by chance, that the World famous Tower Bridge hosts an exhibition showing how it was constructed & also giving access to the original steam engine room in the base of the Southern Tower.
As a Londoner the bridge holds a special status for me & on the run-in to London Bridge Station I always try to catch a glimpse of it from the train, although the clear view of the 1960’s seems to have been at least partially eclipsed, by some rather unattractive buildings. Two major parts of the exhibition are housed in the upper walkways, & despite not being very good with heights I decided to give it a go.
So I booked a ticket on line (at a small discount). & the day arrived bright but not overly warm & I managed to get there by mid afternoon; despite Southern Trains…
The exhibition entrance is in the base of the North Tower from where a lift takes you straight to the top of the Tower. The lift attendant gave a brief talk on what we could expect to see & the flow of the exhibition. Although they were keen to point out that the tour was “unguided” & there were no time constraints.
In the top of the North Tower there was a brief video presentation, describing the conception of the bridge. Actors played the parts of the designers & Queen Victoria, & it was quite entertaining. Then it was out to the East upper walkway giving great views of the river in the direction of St Katherine docks. The East walkway contains an exhibition featuring bridges of the World but it was very easy to be distracted by the views.
Inside the walkway;
At the far end you return via the South tower along the West walkway where the views are equally spectacular as you look down on the Tower of London on one side of the River, but are intimated by The Shard to the other.
The West walkway contains (currently) an exhibition of iconic images from the 1960’s. Although I must point out that Pat Macnee & Diana Rigg were not the original Avengers as stated, Macnee having 2 previous partners in Ian Hendry & Honor Blackman. Points for pedantry please…… 😛
However, from the walkways one descends about halfway down the South Tower, via the stairwells, where there is a small display of photo’s & an information desk (with some souvenirs). This part of the tour needs improving a bit in my view.
From there the lift takes you back to ground level where there is a short walk on the Bridge itself, at road level, & then down steps to the original steam engine rooms. It was interesting to see how the hydraulic (steam) pressure was generated to lift the vast bascules. Quite a feat of engineering & beautifully preserved & restored.
Lastly there was another video presentation showing the bridge in operation, very interesting, but I still want to see the actual bridge open, which, despite a number of river visits down the years, I have still not seen.
Exiting the exhib. of course requires negotiating the gift shop. Reasonably well stocked & not just with the usual London themed items. Prices were quite reasonable too, particularly compared with other nearby attractions.
All in all, good value & an interesting visit, worth the 8 GBP on line cost for the great views alone.