SIGHT­SEE­ING

Where London - - CONTENTS -

A be­hind-the-scenes look at the Vic­to­rian mar­vel, Tower Bridge, on a spe­cial En­gi­neer­ing Tour.

There are few London sights more evoca­tive than the open­ing of Tower Bridge. It takes just one minute for the two huge halves of the bridge (or ‘bas­cules’, as they’re tech­ni­cally known) to be raised to their max­i­mum an­gle of 86 de­grees, a feat of en­gi­neer­ing that’s just as im­pres­sive to­day as it was when the bridge was com­pleted in 1886.

The Tower Bridge Ex­hi­bi­tion is worth a visit at any time of year, but vis­i­tors to London this Jan­uary and March can take ad­van­tage of an ex­tra-spe­cial treat as Tower Bridge En­gi­neer­ing Tours al­low ac­cess to ar­eas nor­mally closed to the pub­lic.

The first half of the tour takes in the Tower Bridge Ex­hi­bi­tion, with al­lows you on to the high-level walk­ways (check out the new glass floor­ing) and Vic­to­rian en­gine rooms, where you’ll gain an in­sight into the his­tory of the bridge. There is also the per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion BridgesOfTheWorld, which looks at 40 fa­mous bridges.

One of the bridge’s se­nior tech­ni­cal of­fi­cers then takes over and whisks vis­i­tors into the bridge’s hid­den zones. First, the Bridge Con­trol Room, where the but­tons are pushed that cause it to open and close around 1,000 times each year. Then to the en­gine room to see the heavy-duty hy­draulic equip­ment that moves the bas­cules. And fi­nally − and most im­pres­sive of all − the Bas­cule Cham­bers, the huge brick-lined spa­ces be­low the level of the riverbed into which the coun­ter­weights swing when the bridge opens.

Whether you’re into en­gi­neer­ing, pas­sion­ate about Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture or just in­ter­ested in the se­cret life of one of London’s most fa­mous attractions, it’s an ex­cit­ing way to spend a cou­ple of hours. For full list­ing, turn to p. 25

Go un­der­neath one of London’s great­est icons, Tower Bridge, dur­ing a rare tour of the En­gi­neer­ing Rooms, says Jo Caird.

TOURIST IN­FOR­MA­TION London & Part­ners is the of­fi­cial source of in­for­ma­tion on the city. Call T: 020-7234 5800 for de­tails and to or­der an in­for­ma­tion pack, or go to www.vis­it­lon­don.com, with de­tails on all Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­tres. Orig­i­nal London Vis­i­tor Cen­tre One-stop shop for days out, en­try into attractions and more. 17-19 Cock­spur St, SW1Y 5BL. T: 020-8877 2120. Mon-Sat 8.30am-6pm; Sun 9am-5.30pm. London Am­bas­sadors Look out for 200 in­for­ma­tion war­dens on the streets, travel cen­tres and at Heathrow Air­port, wear­ing a badge with the London logo and an ‘i’ for in­for­ma­tion. GoToMid­town In­for­ma­tion point for the Mid­town area, inc its free guided walk­ing tours. 56 New Ox­ford St, WC1A 1ES. Mon-Wed 10am-6pm; Thurs-Fri 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-5pm. www.gotomid­town.co.uk. TKTS booth You can get dis­counted tick­ets for West End shows from the TKTS booth. Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-4pm. The Lodge, Le­ices­ter Sq Gdns, WC2H 0AP.

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