The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 33 The Tower and Tower Hill

Tower Bridge

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The Tower Bridge spans the Thames immediately below the Tower, and in the opinion of many its size unduly dwarfs that historic pile. 'Curiously unbeautiful, yet appropriately designed for its purpose and its propinquity to the ancient fortress that once was London's defence, this 'Gateway of the City' is strangely impressive, especially at dusk or dawn' (M. C. Salaman). The bridge, about 800 feet long between the abutment towers, was designed by Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry, and was built in 1886-94 at a cost of �800,000 (including the approaches, �1,500,000). It has three horizontal spans. The lateral spans are suspension bridges, each 270 feet long, hung on huge chains passing from portal towers on the banks of the river to two lofty square Gothic towers, 200 feet apart, which rise from massive piers in the stream. These tall towers, the most conspicuous parts of the design, are connected with each other near the top by lattice-work footbridges (reached by staircases and lifts within the towers, but now closed), stretching like the lintel of a gateway 112 feet above the carriage-way forming the central span. This carriageway is formed of two bascules or drawbridges, 29+ feet above high-water, each weighing about 1000 tons and raised in 1+ minutes by hydraulic machinery to permit the passage of vessels through the bridge. St. Katherine's Docks adjoin the north approach to the Tower Bridge, and London Docks are a little lower down the river. Edmund Spenser (circa 1522-99) was probably born in Upper East Smithfield, which bounds St. Katherine's Docks on the north.