Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognisable structures; anyone who visits this city on a regular basis, such as Tunde Folawiyo, will be familiar with it. This combined suspension and bascule bridge is made up of two towers, which are connected by two walkways. At the base of each tower lies the bascule operating machinery and pivots. Whilst it was originally painted a bluish-green shade, the current colour scheme is blue, white and red. This was chosen 37 years ago, in order to celebrate the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Its striking Victorian-Gothic style was the result of a law which decreed that any structures built close to the Tower of London must have a design which is in keeping with that of the Tower. The idea for this bridge came about during the 19th century, after the population of the East End grew so large that crossing the Thames via London Bridge would often take hours. In 1876, it was decided that a second bridge should be constructed to address this problem.
In 1884, John Wolfe Barry and Horace Jones were commissioned to design the structure. It took 432 construction workers a total of eight years to complete the bridge. The framework required the use of 11,000 tonnes of steel, and was supported by two enormous piers, which were sunk deep into the bed of the river. The steelwork was then covered in Portland stone and Cornish granite. The completed towers stood 213 feet above sea level, the bridge itself spanned over 800 feet, and the walkways had a total length of 143 feet. Each of the bascules had a weight of just over 1,000 tonnes.
As a history buff, Tunde Folawiyo may know that due to the bridge’s proximity to the harbour, the architects had to make sure that the finished structure allowed for the passing of large vessels. This is why they chose to make it moveable; however, the opening mechanism is not visible to the public, and is instead hidden inside the towers. This mechanism once operated using steam power, but was electrified in 1976.
Whilst many visitors are simply interested in admiring the bridge and taking a photograph of it, others who are keen to learn of its history can do so by visiting the display area on the structure known as the Tower Bridge Exhibition; located along the walkway, it contains a collection of films, photographs and other media, and allows them to view the inside of the Victorian engine area.
Folawiyo enjoys visiting London and learning more about its historical attractions. However, this entrepreneur has many other interests as well, which you can learn about by reading the Yolasite profile on Tunde Folawiyo.