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Tower bridge (part seven)The most famous incident on the bridge occurred in 1952, when the bascules began to open before a number 78 bus had managed to cross. The bus dropped about 3 feet from the north bascule, which had started rising too soon, on to the south bascule, injuring ten people, including the driver. The City Corporation accepted responsibility for the error, and the driver was awarded, £10 by London Transport.


Tower bridge (part six)The interests of shipping meant that the bridge originally had to stay open for two hours at high tide, which was why the upper walkways were provided for pedestrians to cross when the bridge was open, but this rule was soon relaxed and the walkways were not used as much as the authorities had expected. Most people preferred to wait at ground level and watch the bridge opening, rather than walk up or wait for a lift to take them up, with another walk or wait to get down, аll of which would probably have taken longer than the average wait for the bridge to reopen. The walkways were no doubt a good place for a stroll, but in 1910 they were closed through lack of use. It has been suggested the closure was due to the number of suicides, but this cannot have been true, as the walkways were enclosed by cast-iron latticework, making it impossible to jump from there, though there were a number of suicides from the roadway.
Tower bridge (part five)Not everyone welcomed the royal opening of the bridge. A number of anarchists were arrested for inciting others to murder any members of the royal family who attended the opening. The day before the big day, they were on Tower Hill, carrying placards with sentiments such as: ‘Fellow workers, you have expended Life Energy and Skill in Building this Bridge ... now come the Royal Vermin and Rascally Politicians with Pomp and Ceremony to claim all the credi ...' Others enjoyed the new bridge rather too much, and after the opening there was a spate of incidents in which people jumped off the bridge, either for a wager or simply for the hell of it. One well-planned stunt went seriously wrong in November. Benjamin Fuller, a professional diver who claimed to have jumped from all the other bridges in London, disguised himself with a wig and false moustache and managed to get through a trapdoor on to the roof of one of the walkways. From there he dived into the Thames but drowned because of the strong tide.
Tower bridge (part four)The length of the bridge is 940 feet and the central span is 200 feet. The central roadway is 50 feet wide, with the side spans being 60 feet wide.The gradients are much less steep than on most other bridges, and on the north side it is almost level, which was of great benefit to hauliers with heavy loads, and certainly kinder to the horses. Work on the bridge was completed in 1894. On 27 March the two bascules were lowered for the first time, marking the bridge's completion, and they were later tested by having a huge weight placed on the southern one, including traction engines and carts loaded with granite. The bridge was officially opened on Saturday 30 June by the Prince of Wales, who had laid the foundation stone eight years earlier. The opening was a day of great pageantry, with the streets full of people and the Thames full of boats, all helped by the glorious weather.
Tower bridge (part three)The foundations of the piers were dug out inside wrought-iron caissons sunk 25 feet into the riverbed and filled with concrete.The piers, 70 feet wide and 185 feet long, were built with Staffordshire bricks with granite facings. They were built hollow, as they had to contain massive chambers for the counterbalanced ends of the bascules. The towers were built with a skeleton of steel girders, making them strong enough to take the strain of opening the central bascules, and were additionally braced by three landing floors and the iron walkways. The walkways consist of two 95-foot cantilevers, which support a central linking girder. The side spans are supported by steel suspension chains attached to the main towers and the abutment towers. All the steelwork was supplied and built by Sir William Arrol & Compamy. It was made in Glasgow and delivered by steamers to be assembled on site, using cranes, which were moved up as each stage was completed. Great care was taken at all times to prevent any tools or rivets falling into the river, as many boats, including pleasure steamers, were constantly passing through. So as not to obstruct the passage of ships, the bascules had to be built in the vertical position.




Tower bridge (part two)One of the biggest problems was raising the funds to build the three crossings, and in 1883 Parliament turned down a petition by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the extension of coal and wine duties to finance them, with the extraordinary reason that 'it had not yet been shown that they were required'. In the end, although the bridge is outside the City limits, it was agreed that the City's Bridge House Estates would fund the new bridge.
Tower bridge (part one)Tower bridge is one of London's best-known landmarks and, with its unique design, is instantly recognized throughout the world. With its mock-medieval look, many visitors are fooled into thinking it is much older than it is, but inside its Gothic granite exterior is a steel frame, which is a masterpiece of Victorian engineering.
London bridge (part fourteen)One of the ancient privileges of receiving the Freedom of the City, or so tradition has it, is to be able to herd sheep across London Bridge, though there is no documentary evidence of the right. Freemen used to be exempt from paying tolls, and livestock was once regularly herded through the streets on the way to market, often across the bridges, so this could have included the right to drive a herd of sheep over London Bridge without paying for the privilege. In the popular consciousness, this privilege has been considered, incorrectly, to be a right bestowed on Freemen today, though it is a privilege rarely carried out, except occasionally as a publicity stunt.
London bridge (part thirteen)Soon after the plans for the new bridge were announced, the City started receiving letters from people wanting to buy parts of Rennie's bridge, so it was decided to offer the whole bridge for sale instead, as it was felt that it could serve a useful function somewhere else. Even before the prospectus was printed, there was interest from Universal Studios in Hollywood, but in the end the winning bid was from the McCullough Oil Company of the United States, who wanted to re-erect the bridge as the centrepiece of a new tourist attraction at Lake Havasu City in Arizona.
London bridge (part twelve)After the opening in 1836 of London Bridge station, the bridge had to contend with the extra crowds of City workers crossing it during the morning and evening rush hours. By the 1850s over a hundred thousand pedestrians used the bridge daily, and both the footpaths and the roadway were often extremely congested.The first suggestion that the bridge should be widened was put forward in 1854. The idea was to hang footpaths 12 feet wide over the sides of the bridge, though it would clearly not improve its architectural appearance. Similar proposals were made in 1869 and 1875, but they came to nothing, though it was clear that something had to be done. In 1882 plans were put forward for doubling the width of the bridge, but all such plans were put on hold when a new bridge at the Tower was proposed which, it was hoped, would ease the congestion.