Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge under construction
Image from 'The Tower Bridge: its history and construction from the date of the earliest project to the present time (May, 1894)', courtesy of the British Library on Flickr
NKCR

The installing of lifts in the famous Tower Bridge.

The iconic Tower Bridge in London was opened on the 30 June 1894, and the time was the largest opening bridge in the world. The bridge had been built following several years of debate over where to place a bridge east of London Bridge and what its design should be. The final design was selected from over 50 submitted designs. Construction of the bridge took over 8 years, using 11,000 tons of steel and involving 432 builders.

The builders installed lifts in each tower to take passengers from road level up 140 feet to an overhead walkway which connected the two large piers. If the bridge was to be raised for some considerable time, this at least gave foot passengers a chance to continue their journey. As an alternative there were stairs consisting of 200 steps for anyone feeling fit.

There were two lifts in each tower. Each consisted of a cage, 13 feet by 6 feet, and 9 feet high. These were raised and lowered by an hydraulic ram with chain gearing. Each was capable of lifting 20 to 25 passengers.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge under construction
Image from 'The Tower Bridge: its history and construction from the date of the earliest project to the present time (May, 1894)', courtesy of the British Library on Flickr
NKCR

By 1910 the walkway had become redundant as almost all foot passengers were prepared to wait for the bridge to reopen, and besides, the walkway was open to the elements which probably dissuaded them when instead they could shelter in the lee of the pier while waiting. So the walkways were closed and the lifts put out of use to the public.

The bridge was renovated in 1982. As part of a new exhibition of the history of the Bridge and its construction and operation it was decided that access to the walkways should be reopened. This would also allow the public a chance to obtain a wonderful panoramic view of London and the Thames which they had been denied for 72 years. The walkways were covered in glass and new lifts were installed.

Since then, thousands of visitors had ascended to the top and marveled at the view.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge under construction
Image from 'The Tower Bridge: its history and construction from the date of the earliest project to the present time (May, 1894)', courtesy of the British Library on Flickr
NKCR

More articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Search History House

Find your Ancestors in the Newspapers

newspaper
Essex Standard Newspaper

Newspaper archives are now a very important source of information for researching your family tree.

Find your ancestors in the newspapers.
Try our example search to discover if your ancestors are in the British Newspaper Archive.

Also look at other newspaper archives and learn how they can help you research your ancestors. >>more

Looking for pictures to add to your family tree album?

Southminster

Ebay is a good source of old images of Essex towns and villages. If you're looking for pictures to add to your family tree album, then try one of the auctions, or there are several 'Buy It Now' shops offering postcards which have been touched up and improved - so if you're unsure about bidding, try these. Link already formatted for Essex Postcards. Browse through or type the name of the location in the Ebay search box.