Tower Bridge: A London Icon
Gillian Thornton experiences this unique landmark from every possible angle.
TOWER BRIDGE is one of the world’s most recognisable tourist attractions, loved by visitors from across the globe. But if you don’t have a head for heights, you might want to stop reading now. I’m standing on one of the two parallel walkways linking the twin towers, more than 140 feet above the Thames, and looking down through a glass floor to the traffic below.
In fact, I’m waiting for the traffic to stop. The road divides at the centre of Tower Bridge into two “bascules” which can be raised to let tall ships pass through, and today there will be two chances to watch the operation, just half an hour apart.
The bridge is raised around 850 times a year, but if you want to be sure of seeing it, consult the Tower Bridge website before your visit to check the times for each day.
With 10 minutes to spare, visitors begin to position themselves around the glass panel. School teachers make sure their charges aren’t hogging the view, whilst uniformed guides do the same with adult viewers!
I’m standing with my back against the wall, exactly above the centre, and with minutes to go we get our cameras ready as the bridge clears of traffic.
Today we’re waiting for the Dixie Queen, a paddlesteamer that operates pleasure excursions along the river, but all kinds of craft pass through here, from sail-training ships to motor yachts, tugs to the occasional cruise liner.
But it’s no good pitching up and expecting to sail your ship through. The service is free around the clock for registered vessels with a mast or superstructure of 30 feet or more, but requests must be received at least 24 hours ahead.
All eyes are fixed on the road beneath as suddenly a narrow gap appears in the
One of the high walkways across the bridge.
A view of Tower Bridge from the South Bank.