We don’t like to brag but we think our Tower Bridge TV Studios has pretty much the best vista in London. We have a bird’s eye view of the stunning Tower Bridge (hence the name!), City Hall, the Thames, the Tower of London (across the river) and the beautiful London skyline. We never get tired of looking at this picture postcard scene and the history that surrounds it. With this in mind, we thought we’d put together 8 fabulous facts that you may not know about the iconic Tower Bridge.
1. The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by the then Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and his wife, The Princess of Wales (Alexandra of Denmark).
2. During WWII as a precaution against the existing engines being damaged by enemy action, a third engine was installed in 1942: a 150 hp horizontal cross-compound engine, built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. at its Elswick works in Newcastle. The engine became redundant when the rest of the system was modernised in 1974 and was donated to the Forncett Industrial Steam Museum by the Corporation of the City of London.
3. The entire hydraulic system along with the gas lighting system was installed by William Sugg & Co Ltd., a famous Westminster gas engineering company. The gas lighting initially worked using open flame burners within the lanterns but soon after this was updated to the incandescent system.
4. On 10 August 1912, Francis McClean flew between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short Brothers S.33 floatplane.
5. In December 1952, the bridge opened while a number 78 double-decker bus was crossing from the south bank. At that time, the gateman would ring a warning bell and close the gates when the bridge was clear before the watchman ordered the raising of the bridge. The process failed while a relief watchman was on duty. The bus was near the edge of the south bascule when it started to rise; driver Albert Gunter made a split-second decision to accelerate, clearing a 3-foot gap to drop 6 feet onto the north bascule, which had not yet started to rise. There were no serious injuries. Gunter was given £10 by the City Corporation to honour his act of bravery.
6. Since its opening, ships have always had right of way and in May 1997, the motorcade of US President Bill Clinton was divided by the opening of the bridge. The Thames sailing barge Gladys, which was on her way to St Katharine Docks, arrived on schedule and the bridge was opened for her. Returning from a Thames-side lunch at Le Pont de la Tour restaurant with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Clinton was less punctual and arrived just as the bridge was rising. The bridge opening split the motorcade in two, much to the consternation of security staff. A spokesman for Tower Bridge is quoted as saying: “We tried to contact the American Embassy, but they wouldn’t answer the phone.”
7. The bridge featured in publicity for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. In June 2012, a set of Olympic rings was suspended from the bridge to mark one month until the start of the games. The rings cost £259,817 to make, measured 25 by 11.5 metres and weighed 13 tonnes.
8. The bridge is 800 feet (240 m) in length with two towers each 213 feet (65 m) high, built on piers. The central span of 200 feet (61 m) between the towers is split into two equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 86 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The bascules, weighing over 1,000 tons each, are counterbalanced to minimise the force required and allow raising in five minutes.
If you would like to take advantage of this amazing view using our fully equipped multi-camera HD/4K Tower Bridge TV Studios for your next television, corporate or webinar project, get in touch today!