Tower Bridge Facts for Kids – England’s Most Iconic & Popular Landmark

What is Tower Bridge?

The Tower Bridge is one of the England’s most popular and iconic landmarks. The bridge runs over the River Thames close to the Tower of London. It was built in the late 19th century featuring the magnificent architect of the Victorian Engineers. Tower bridge is often confused with the London Bridge. The bridge contains of two bridge towers which are connected via two horizontal walkways. One of the striking features of the tower bridge is that it features the system in which the roadway opens up allowing tall ships to pass through. At the base of each tower there is an operating machinery as well as bascule pivots. The main colors of the bridge are white and blue. You’re about to discover many more Tower Bridge facts for kids.

tower bridge facts for kids
A magnificent scene of Tower Bridge in London. Tower Bridge facts for kids. IMAGE: britannica.com

Tower Bridge Facts for Kids

What Type of Bridge is Tower Bridge?

  • It is a type of a suspension bridge.
  • The tower bridge is one of the world’s famous bridges. The bridge is basically designed to ease road traffic that makes its way over the river while maintaining the river access.
  • It has two huge roadways that open up so that the tall ships go through it.
  • The tower bridge soon earned another name as the Wonder Bridge.
  • It had become the center point of the River Thames right after it was built.
  • Tower Bridge is one of the busiest bridges in the world.
  • Around 40,000 people cross the bridge each day.

Tower Bridge History

  • During the nineteenth century, engineers were largely concerned with the fact that if they construct a fixed bridge, it would likely affect the sailing ships which travel between tower of London and London Bridge.
  • In 1877, Sir Albert Joseph Altman chaired a Special Bridge or Subway Committee to find out the way.
  • The engineers submitted as many as 50 bridge designs.
  • Sir Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, also presented a design but it was rejected because it didn’t have headroom. In 1884 however the committee approved the Joseph’s design. They decided to build the bascule bridge.
  • The architect Sir Horace Jones and the engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry were appointed to construct the bridge.
  • Parliament passed the Act in 1885 to approve the budget for the bridge.
  • The authorities installed the third engine in 1942 merely to give support to the remaining ones during the World War II. They thought that the enemy might hit the bridge during the war.
  • All engines were modernized in 1974 and the one that was installed in 1942 finally donated to the Industrial Museum.
  • The management installed computer system in 2000 precisely to help it in lifting as well as lowering down the bascules simply by remote. However, the computer system turned out to be just not reliable as the bridge often gets stuck in the middle.

Tower Bridge Construction & Architect

  • The construction had begun in 1886.
  • Five chief architects headed the construction named: Baron Armstrong (hydraulics), Sir William Arrol & Co., Sir John Jackson (foundations), E.W. Crutwell, and William Webster.
  • About 432 workers were employed to begin the construction.
  • The engineers sank two mammoth-sized concrete (piers) weighing 70,000 tons into the riverbed. The piers were going to support the construction.
  • They used 11,000 tons of steel to build the bridge’s framework.
  • They also used Portland stone and Cornish granite to give protection to the steel.
  • The Bridge House Estates maintain the tower bridge.
  • It was built in a Gothic style.
  • The total cost of construction estimated at £1,184,000 that is equal to the £124 million in 2016.
Tower Bridge facts for kids
Tower Bridge Exhibition, London. Tower Bridge facts for kids. IMAGE: getyourguide.com

Tower Bridge Opening

  • The Prince of Wales officially opened the Tower Bridge on June 30, 1894.
  • The bridge provided the link between the present-day Tower Bridge Approach and Tower Bridge Road. The former was known as Iron Gate while the latter as Horselydown then.
  • Soon after the opening, the bridge was used by hundreds of pedestrians for free. There was no toll to pay. However, the foot tunnel was shut down in 1898.
  • The upper walkways were rarely used by pedestrians as pickpockets or prostitutes had become fairly common. Thus the walkway was closed in 1910. In 1982 it was opened again for pedestrians.
  • When the bridge is closed the clearance height is about 28 feet (8.6 meters) however when it is raised up the clearance height becomes 139 feet (42.5 meters).

Modern Changes

  • The Tower Bridge authorities announced major change in April 2008 when they decided to introduce facelift in the bridge. The total estimated cost is about £4 million. The facelift project was going to take good four years to complete.
  • The facelift project features many changes such as stripping off the metal paint to repaint in white and blue.
  • The contractors faced quite many challenges in that the bridge cannot be closed all together. There were several disruptions. However, once done the new facelift was going to last as long as 25 years from the year 2008.
  • Eleni Shiarlis installed new lighting on the walkways which are also used for exhibitions or new year festivals.

Most Recent Changes in Structure

  • The latest renovations were done in 2016 when the management closed the Tower Bridge for about 90 days—ranging from October 1 to December 30.
  • By so doing, the constructors were able to complete their work on time and without any distractions.
  • They renovated the walkways, road, and decks.
  • The engineers waterproofed the arches.
  • The bridge lifting systems were also modernized.
tower bridge facts for kids
The inside view of the opening of a Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge facts for kids.

When was the Tower Bridge Built?

  • The Tower Bridge was built in June 21, 1886.

How Long is Tower Bridge?

  • The average length of the bridge is about 801 feet (244 meters).

Where is Tower Bridge Located?

  • Tower Bridge is located on River Thames, London.

London 2012 Olympics

  • Tower Bridge had become the focal point for the entire Londoners in 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • Thirty days before the beginning of Olympics the authorities suspended Olympic rings from the bridge—showing the event is only 30 days behind.
  • The Olympic were 82 by 38 feet in height and weighed as much as 14 short tons with an estimated cost £259,817.

Can You Walk Across Tower Bridge?

  • Yes, sure you can. The bridge is free for all. If you plan to walk across Tower Bridge then you’ll have to walk for about 6 – 7 minutes continuously or maybe 10 to get to the other side.

Design & Structure

  • The 800-feet high bridge has two towers that are 213 feet in height.
  • The length of the central span is about 200 feet. The span is divided into two equal leaves.
  • The weight of each of the bascules is about 1,000 tons.
  • The height of the upper walkways is about 143 feet above the river.
  • There are two traffic lanes on the main deck as well as two pedestrian walkways.
  • Walkways occur outside the towers whereas the roadway passes through the towers.
  • Willian Sugg & Co Ltd, installed the entire hydraulic system along with the lighting.
  • Initially, they used open flames in lanterns but flames were soon replaced by incandescent system.
  • The latest electro-hydraulic drive replaced the original mechanism in 1974. BHA Cromwell House designed the hydraulic drive.

Tower Bridge Signals

  • The management employed unique signals and rules to communicate certain things. At night, they will use colored lights while during the daylight hours, red semaphore signals are mainly used.
  • When there is too much fog a gong goes off pretty loudly.
  • If they suspend black ball from the middle of each walkway that means the bridge will remain closed.

Tower Bridge London Map

 

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge London Map. Tower Bridge facts for kids.

Tower Bridge Construction

  • The construction of a Tower Bridge began on June 21, 1886.

Tower Bridge opening Times

  • The Tower Bridge is usually opened 3 times a day for tall ships or vessels.

Tower Bridge Incidents

  • As a double-decker bus was crossing the Tower Bridge in December 1952, the watchman raised the south side of the bridge. The bus driver made a quick decision to get to the north side of the road which wasn’t raised till then. No serious injuries were reported. Albert Gunter was the name of the driver.
  • In April 5, 1968, one of the pilots named Flt. Lt. Alan Pollock had flown the Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter FGA.9 through the Tower Bridge. He wasn’t allowed to do such stunt. Pollock had a court martial on that.
  • Just as the President Bill Clinton’s motorcade was passing through the bridge, the bridge rose so the motorcade split into two.

Interesting Tower Bridge Facts for Kids – Video