Saturday, October 20

Tower Bridge - 1892

Ah, the Tower Bridge. The crossing opened in the twilight of the 19th century following 8 years of construction work. Prior, over 50 Tower designs were submitted, including one from Sir Josepth Bazalgette who built London's sewer system, before Horace Jones took the cake (Jones was one of the judges). Two massive piers, containing over 70,000 tons of concrete were sunk into the river bed to support the construction. Over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways. This was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland Stone, both to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the bridge a pleasing appearance. The original raising mechanism was powered by pressurised water stored in six hydraulic accumulators which were replaced by new electro-hydraulic drive system in 1974. The longest span is 61 meters while the total length is 244 meters. It's not the Golden Gate but is equally iconic as a working architecture: over 40,000 cars pass daily.

"It represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure"

H. H. Statham"Bridge Engineering", Wiley, 1916.

"A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river"
Brangwyn, F., and Sparrows, W.S., "A Book of Bridges", John Lane, 1920.

Photo thanks to Creative Commons Attribution.