London Part 3: The Tower Bridge

Alright I feel I’ve kept you in suspense long enough as to the fanciest of suspensions across the River Thames: the Tower Bridge.

If you’re like me, then the Tower Bridge is one of the first things you think about when someone mentions the UK along with bright red double deckers, Big Ben, and Harry Potter. So when I found out this was going to be in our itinerary I figured my post-tour self could die happy.

Having spent the morning wandering in the shaded castle corridors of the Tower of London, we were quite chilly and so gulped down some steaming coffees whilst admiring the turrets of our next destination.

2016 London January Tower Bridge In Plain Sight small
Tower Bridge from afar.

At first I thought we were just going to walk across it, but apparently it’s a whole thing where you can go up to walk across. They’d even installed a glass floor just to give you the extra shivers.

We headed over as soon as we’d wrestled our empty Starbucks cups from the marauding gulls and I was quickly overwhelmed by the architecture. Once again, England just does it right.

2016 London January Tower Bridge Crossing small
The lead up, walking across at ground level.
2016 London January View of Thames Shard and Bulgey Building small
Ground level view of the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie buildings, part of London’s much love-it-or-hate-it modern architecture additions (though I have to admit it’s grown on me).

We got our tickets and were given the down low by the elevator attendant as to what we’d expect to find on the tour: the drafting room with the blueprints, the glass-floored exhibition hall, and the boiler room at the end – all the while offering more of those spectacular urban views we’d glimpsed on our cable car journey.

She wished us a pleasant experience and I wasted no time whipping out my camera to document the whole thing.

2016 London January Tower Bridge Drafting Table small
Drafting table with blueprint sketches.
2016 London January Tower Bridge Design Poster small
Inside the mechanics of the Tower Bridge.
2016 London January Tower Bridge View Buildings small
Much views. So wow. Very city.
2016 London January Tower Bridge View Thames small
More city! Much Thames!
2016 London January Tower Bridge Diamond Lattice Work small
Architecture detail.

All along the walls of the exhibition halls – were facts about the bridge. My favourite was the popular legend of how the Americans thought they had successfully bought the Tower Bridge 1967 only to discover their mistake that they had only said the “London bridge” and ended up with, indeed, the entirely different London Bridge. I can just picture the refined British businessmen on the other end of that deal, decked out in smoking jackets whilst swilling brandies and sharing hearty chuckles.

But most exciting was, without doubt, the glass floor of the bridge.

I’m not one to get vertigo, and my logic circuits were well aware that it had to be safe if it was a major tourist attraction, but putting my foot on the glass was a lot harder than I thought it’d be.

2016 London January Tower of London on Glass Floor small
Well worth it though.

I even took a video. It’s unedited which after doing so many Otherwise Chronicles videos (see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5) makes me cringe a little, but it’ll give the full, unsullied experience of what it was like to be there!

We stayed there for quite a while and had lots of fun goofing around being touristy and taking pictures of ourselves.

2016 London January Tower Bridge Me Being Goofy
Action shot of me documenting the experience.

Did I mention being touristy?

2016 London January Tower of London Inside Potrait
Me blocking everyone’s faces with my big hat.

Then it was around to the other side to enjoy the scenic urban sights on the opposite side of the Thames.

2016 London January Shard Armadillo View in Triangle small
The Shard and the Armadillo through architecture detail.
2016 London January Armadillo Building small
Armadillo building detail.
2016 London January Gherkin and Tower of London View small
The majestic modern Gherkin with the ancient Tower of London in the forefront: what London’s all about – the contrast of the super new and the incredibly old.

We spent a lot less time on this half, having exhausted our tourist attention span on the novelty of the first side, so we headed down to the boiler room.

On the way down (long, long, way down – many, many stairs) there were lots of plaques and statues illustrating more facts about the building of the Tower Bridge. The literal nuts and bolts of it, shall we say.

My favourite bit of trivia here was that the bridge was originally painted dark, lacquered brown as that was contemporaneous ruler Queen Victoria’s favourite colour. Happily to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee, it was later painted red, white, and blue. Still, that was a few decades too many to be in the previous, ah…chocolate hue.

2016 London January Builders Hammering Tower Bridge small
Just a…lovely shade…

I didn’t quite know what to expect with the boiler rooms and wasn’t particularly keen or not keen, but I should have known better.

Run on steam, it was like walking into an amazing steampunk reality. So flippin cool.

2016 London January Tower Bridge Engine Furnace small
Furnace of Tower Bridge.
2016 London January Tower Bridge Engine Gears small
Ginormous gears. My head came maybe a little above that bottom stoke.
2016 London January Tower Bridge Engine Room Red Liquids small
Precise measurey thingamabobs with pretty coloured liquids inside. (This is why I never went into engineering).
2016 London January Tower Bridge High Pressure Cylinder small
Boiler of the Tower Bridge.
2016 London January Tower Bridge Mechanical Screws small
There were all number of different instruments lined up to see.
2016 London January Ricky Being Tall in Tower Bridge Engine Rooms small
Ricky being too tall for places once again. (Excuse the terrible quality, I just couldn’t resist putting it in).
2016 London January Tower Bridge Engines Portrait
All us cheery tourists getting stoked about the boiler room. Photo credit Tony.

That was pretty much it for the Tower Bridge except for the gift shop which had all number of funky pens with Tower Bridges balanced on top and matchstick modelling kits you could build in the shape of significant London landmarks. I’ve been practicing being frugal, however, and was very well behaved, coming out with nothing but the photographs I have just shared (yay budget travel!).

In all it was just such a fantastic day – even more so because it was only the start of our three-day adventure. So be sure to stay tuned for more (I promise there won’t be so long a wait until the next post again).

Until next time!

2016 London January Tower Bridge Exit Street Level small
Leaving the Tower Bridge with all of London ahead of us.

For the complete London adventures, check out the links below!

London Part 1: Cable Cars

London Part 2: The Tower of London

London Part 3: The Tower Bridge

London Part 4: Mulled Wine and End of Day 1, or The Importance of Down-Time

London Part 5: Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey

London Part 6: Palaces of Past and Present

London Part 7: Fancy Shopping, Japanese Food, and Geekery

London Part 8: Chilling at the Icebar and Belly Laughs in Greenwich

London Part 9: The London Dungeon

London Part 10: Museums, Tapas, and the End


10 thoughts on “London Part 3: The Tower Bridge

    1. Ahahah it honestly was terrifying – some people were lying down on it which was far mote gutsy than I could have ever managed 😉 glad you enjoyed it!

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  1. The juxtaposition of old and new on the skyline is super to see. AGAIN…all fabulous shots! So happy you went to see the behind the scenes steampunkery system! Incredible stuff. Loved that you included the cutaway artwork. You look so great in these pics…and are certainly brave for having done the glass walk.

    Liked by 1 person

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