Monday October 02, 2023

London’s Tower Bridge an icon at 125 years old

June 30, 2019

LONDON: London´s iconic Tower Bridge celebrates its 125th anniversary on Sunday by showing off the weird and wacky alternative designs that were nearly built instead.

The globally-recognised landmark which opens and closes for large boats plying the River Thames, has become one of the symbols of the British capital. But it could have been very different.

The fairytale castle-style masterpiece was just one of 50 designs which vied to solve the conundrum of erecting a much-needed new bridge that would still allow large ships into what was the world´s busiest port.

“There were all sorts of weird and wonderful, really creative ideas,” said Tower Bridge head Chris Earlie.

“There were spiral roadways — like you would see in car parks — either side of the River Thames and then a high-level bridge,” the bridgemaster told AFP.

“One design that got quite far was a very high-level bridge with long approaches. But it was found that horses pulling carts would get exhausted before they got near the top!”

Other ideas included rotating bridges or even tunnels.

Engineer John Wolfe Barry and architect Horace Jones´s winning design was a bridge that flips open in the middle, with huge chambers in the feet of two towers to accommodate the counterweights swinging down as the bridge halves swing up. For the anniversary weekend, some of the alternative designs are being recreated to be displayed on the bridge for passing pedestrians to study.