Tower Bridge | Kidadl

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  • Tower Bridge is more than 125 years old and is a world-famous symbol of London.
  • The bascules lift 1,000 times a year when a ship passes by.
  • Enjoy spectacular views of London’s skyline from the glass floor walkways, which are 42 metres above the River Thames and measure 11 metres long and 1.8 metres wide.
  • Delve into the Tower of London Exhibition and learn all about how it was constructed and witness how it's used today.

As well as being London’s most historic and oldest river crossing, Tower Bridge is one of the city's most iconic landmarks with its ornate Victorian Gothic style. Stretching from the South Bank across the River Thames to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge is arguably the capital’s most famous bridge. It often gets mistaken for London Bridge, which is approximately half a mile upstream.

Tower Bridge is a combined suspension and bascule bridge, which was originally designed to ease road traffic. The major challenge was building a bridge that caused little impact to river traffic activities. With over fifty designs submitted (some of which you can see on display at the exhibition inside Tower Bridge), a special Bridge and Subway committee was formed to find a solution. It took over eight years for the final design to be approved.

A mother with her child exploring the glass walkways at Tower Bridge.

The legendary 800-feet long Thames crossing was finally designed by City Architect Sir Horace Jones in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry. Construction of Tower Bridge started in 1886 and was completed in 1894, taking eight years to build with the labour of 432 construction workers each day. Made up of 11,000 tons of steel, the majority of which is hidden under Portland stone and Cornish granite, 70,000 tons of concrete, 31,000,000 bricks, 2,000,000 rivets and 22,000 litres of paint, at the time Tower Bridge was the largest and most revolutionary bascule bridge ever built. The bascules were powered by hydraulic steam machines, but since 1976 they have been operated by electricity and oil rather than steam.

The inside of Tower Bridge opened to the public in 1982, featuring the Tower Bridge Exhibition and the spectacular high-level walkways between the towers. At the exhibition, families can learn all about how Tower Bridge was built, explore the magnificent Victorian Engine Rooms, take a peek at the towers, delve into the fascinating history and experience the mesmerising Tower Bridge glass floor walkway, where you can enjoy epic views of the River Thames and the London skyline.

Kidadler Katie Morris Shmuel, who visited the Tower Bridge Exhibition, said, “the Tower Bridge Exhibition was really fun. Doggy friendly too. You visit engine rooms and go up lift or stairs then along walkway over Thames with facts and glass bottom which makes for fun selfies.”

The much-loved bridge is still a major crossing – with 40,000 people crossing it daily. The bascules are raised around three times a day (and 1,000 times per year) to allow ships to pass by.

There are loads of brilliant family-friendly attractions near Tower Bridge. Cruise down the River Thames on a sightseeing riverboat and see all of London’s major landmarks from a different perspective, including the London Eye, the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Canary Wharf and the Houses of Parliament.

What to know before you go

  • The bridge itself is accessible 24 hours a day, but the exhibition is open from 10.30am - 7pm daily, with last admission at 6pm.
  • Tower Bridge is fully accessible, both on the bridge and at the exhibition. The interior is completely buggy-friendly. There is lift access to all levels. There is no buggy storage area.
  • There is no on-site café or restaurant, but you are welcome to bring your own food and drinks in the venue. Please don’t bring nuts. There are loads of great family-friendly restaurants near Tower Bridge. Bill’s Clink Street restaurant, Vapiano and Pizza Express all offer great kids’ menus.
  • Wear comfortable shoes to walk up the tower.
  • The queues for the exhibition are outside, so it’s advisable to check the weather before setting off.
  • Expect to spend between 30 to 60 minutes at the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
  • There are three toilets at the venue. There is one accessible toilet in the South Tower and two in the Engine Rooms, one of which is accessible.
  • There are baby-changing facilities available in the accessible toilets in the South Tower and Engine Rooms.
  • Tower Bridge is a breastfeeding-friendly venue. Please feed your baby in any area that you choose to.
  • Pick up a Tower Bridge Trail for little explorers at the venue. It’s packed full of engaging activities.
  • There is a gift shop at theexhibition available selling gifts, homeware, children’s toys and games, clothing and books.

Getting there

  • Tower Hill station (District and Circle lines) is a seven-minute walk away and has step-free access to street level.
  • By train or DLR, London Bridge, Tower Gateway DLR and Fenchurch Street stations are all within a 13-minute walk away.
  • By bus, the following routes stop at Tower Bridge: 15, 42, 78, 100 and 343.
  • If you would like to travel by riverboat, Tower Pier and St Katharine's Pier are located a short walk away on the North Bank and London Bridge Pier is on the South Bank.
  • If you are coming by car, Tower Hill Coach and Car Park is the nearest car park to Tower Bridge. It’s located at 50 Lower Thames Street.

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