Tower Bridge

What’s Tower Bridge got in common with a seesaw?

Tower Bridge is the only bridge over the Thames which can be raised. Perhaps you’ve seen this happen. It’s known as a bascule bridge, which comes from the French word for “seesaw” because it can be raised to let tall ships pass through (which takes about a minute) and has walkways where people can cross at the same time.

The bridge used to be raised about 50 times a day but now this only happens about three times a day.

Building Tower Bridge was a tricky task

Work on the bridge started in 1886 and took eight years to finish. Crews of workers fixed around 200 rivets per day by hand and there are two million rivets in Tower Bridge – so you do the maths!

The high level walkways were built 46 metres above the River Thames and there were no safety nets in the late 1800s. Boats would pass below so all the workers had to be extra careful not to drop a tool onto someone’s head. Ten men died during the construction of Tower Bridge.

Can you imagine how it must have felt in December 1952 when the bridge opened while a number 78 double-decker bus was still on it; causing the bus to jump from one side to the other? The driver was rewarded with a £10 bonus for his actions.