Finally, after three yearsof paint analysis, scaffolding, polythene and engineers, the most famous bridge in the world has been restored to all its former glory – Tower Bridge is back.
Finally, after three years of paint analysis, scaffolding, polythene and engineers, the most famous bridge in the world has been restored to all its former glory – Tower Bridge is back!
The restoration of Tower Bridge that takes place every 25 years was completed at the end of March. With the polythene removed and the paint dry, the bridge was once again ready to open for shipping. The first boat that passed through the bridge was the MV Dixie Queen at 5:30pm on Saturday 2 April. Bridge Master Eric Sutherns MBE said, “It’s fantastic to see the bridge finally divested of all wraps, scaffolding and cradles and standing proud in pristine condition again.”
Architect Sir Horace Jones and civil engineer Sir John Wolfe-Barry were the masterminds behind the creation of Tower Bridge in the late 1800s. It took 8 years, 5 contractors and 432 construction workers to build the bridge, which was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by the Prince and Princess of Wales – the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. At this time it was painted a greenish-blue colour and a chocolate brown – its current colours of red, white and blue were chosen for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1976.
The restoration cost a staggering £4 million, and was funded by Bridge House Estates. This ancient City trust dates back to 1097 when monks founded a charity that charged Londoners a toll for crossing London Bridge. The main purpose of this trust is still to maintain all five City Bridges: London, Tower, Southwark, Blackfriars and Millennium Bridge. This trust is now worth £700 million and continues to give grants to charities in Greater London.
When the restoration began in 2008, Patrick Baty, a paint specialist, was brought in to determine how the bridge was painted when it was first built in 1894. By taking samples of paint from all over the bridge he was able to discover that the Clean Air Act of 1956 had actually improved the quality of London’s atmosphere, as there was no soot between the layers of paint.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition, inside the most famous bridge in the world, is a must-see attraction for any tourist in London. The exhibition ‘London in Black and White: A Photographic Celebration’ which opens on Thursday 30 June, will allow visitors to see a collection of rare images from London’s past.
For further information visit www.towerbridge.org.uk