Wednesday

The Story of Tower Bridge

WHY did they build Tower Bridge?

Let me take you back to 1860. London had a problem: TRAFFIC! (Does that sound familiar?) Thousands of people and carts and horses crossed the River Thames. You could take a boat across the Thames, but that was slow and expensive. You could cross London Bridge for free, but it was really crowded. You could swim across, but that, well, it was wet! And in the winter, pretty COLD!

Obviously, the River Thames needed a new crossing. But the new crossing needed to 1) allow carts and horses and people to cross over it, and 2) allow ships to come into the Pool of London. At the same time!

After all, London was one of the world's busiest ports. The big question of the day was: How do you design a bridge which carts and horses can cross over, while tall ships to sail under it?

All sorts of architects submitted all sorts of designs -- there were TUNNEL designs; there were designs for really tall BRIDGES; or BRIDGES with steep roads; there was a design for a "rolling" bridge; one design had interlocking loops which would keep the traffic flowing above and below the bridge. But none of these ideas seemed practical.

Enter our hero: Horace Jones. He was the 'Architect and Surveyor to the City of London Corporation,' a job dating back to the 15th century. Horace Jones submitted a design for a bascule bridge. His bridge would raise its bascules to let the tall ships pass through. Plus, his design had walkways, high above the ships' masts, where pedestrians could cross as the ships passed underneath. Problem solved!

But that was only the DESIGN of Tower Bridge! Read my other blogs about Tower Bridge to find out the rest of the story!