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Tower bridge (part two)
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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 two)

Frederic Burnett's 1876 design for a duplex low-level Tower Bridge, which he claimed would allow an uninterrupted flow of traffic both along and over the river.


At one point it seemed likely that a low-level swing-bridge would be built, but in the end the most acceptable design came from the City Architect, Horace Jones: a bascule bridge that could open like a double drawbridge to allow ships through. In the original design there was a curved arch over the centre of the bridge, and the bascules would be opened by chains.The design was amended, as the roadway could not be opened far enough to allow ships through, and hydraulic power was introduced instead to raise the bascules. Jones worked up the designs with the engineer John Wolfe Barry for presentation to Parliament, and in 1885 the Tower Bridge Bill received the Royal Assent. The resulting bridge is a combination of three different types: suspension bridges at each end, a girder bridge for the pedestrian walkways, and a bascule bridge in the Centre. The City asked Jones, who was knighted in 1886, to share the supervision of the construction with Barry, but in 1887 Jones died suddenly, and Barry took on the direction of the whole operation, helped by, among others, Henry Marc Brunei, son of Isambard.The cost of construction was originally estimated to be _£750,000, but the final cost was over £1 million, including the cost of the approaches. The Corporation had been given four years to complete the construction, but it had to ask for two extensions and it was eight years before the job was completed. Part of the problem was that it was a legal requirement to keep the river clear at all times for ships to go through, which meant that the two piers could not be built at the same time. Considering the size and complexity of the task, it was a considerable achievement that only ten men died during the bridge's construction.

On 21 June 1886 the first stone was laid on the northern abutment by the Prince of Wales on behalf of the Queen, with considerable ceremony. As is traditional on such occasions, a time capsule containing coins and newspapers of the time was placed underneath it. The stone can still be seen on the upstream side of the northern abutment, alongside the wharf.


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