Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tower Bridge of London & London Bridge

Date: 18th April 2014

Still remember what I wrote about Chain Bridge in Budapest? In a different perspective, Tower Bridge in London and Chain Bridge are both designed by British designer. Chain Bridge was designed by Willian Tierney Clark in 1839, opened 10 years later in 1849. 45 years after, Tower Bridge, designed by Sir Horace Jones was open to public in London. Important to note that a smaller scale of chain bridge was also designed by the Willian Tierney Clark in Thames River, called Marlow Bridge which connecting the town of Marlow, Buckinghamshire and the village of Bisham in Berkshire. It was built between 1829 and 1832. Tower Bridge and Chain Bridge, both are grandeur and unique in it's own that brought so much happiness just by looking at these 2 bridges. 

Like I said in previous entry, Tower Bridge is often mistaken for London Bridge, which is seated not far from each other, i.e. on the next bridge upstream. Although the bridge is an undoubted a London landmark, professional commentators in the early 20th century were critical of its aesthetics. H.H. Statham wrote "It represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness, and of falsification of the actual facts of the structure", while Frank Brangwyn stated that "A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river". It was nothing wrong to my eyes except that the surrounding areas are blooming with modern buildings which makes the Tower Bridge look a little bit out of place, in my opinion. Similarly to the Tower Palace located next to it. However, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank selected the bridge as one of his 4 choices for the 2002 BBC television documentary series Britain's Best Buildings.

Tower Bridge is built from 1886 till 1894, took 8 years, 2 years less than the construction of Chain Bridge in Budapest. It is a combined drawbridge (bascule) and suspension bridge in London which crosses the River Thames. It seated close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name, and has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of 2 towers tied together at the upper level by means of 2 horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the 2 walkways are carried by the 2 robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge's present colour scheme dates from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee. Originally it was painted a mid greenish-blue colour.

View from London's Bridge

The nearest London Underground tube stations are Tower Hill on the Circle and District line, London Bridge and Bermondsey, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway. We took a different route of the tube to reach the London Bridge and thereafter pleasantly walk to the Tower Bridge as it is not that far. London Bridge was built an increased commercial development in the East End of London in the second half of the 19th century. A traditional fixed bridge could not be built because it would cut off access by tall-masted ships to the port facilities in the Pool of London, between London Bridge and the Tower of London.

Historically, a Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in 1877, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman, to find a solution to the river crossing problem. It opened the design of the crossing to public competition. Over 50 designs were submitted, including one from civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The evaluation of the designs was surrounded by controversy, and it was not until 1884 that a design submitted by Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect (who was also one of the judges), was approved.

Jones' engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry, revised the idea of a bascule bridge with 2 towers built on piers. The central span was split into 2 equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The 2 side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways. The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by King Edward VII, the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark.

The bridge connected an Iron Gate, on the north bank of the river, with Horselydown Lane, on the south, now known as Tower Bridge Approach and Tower Bridge Road, respectively. Until the bridge was opened, the Tower Subway, 400 m to the west was the shortest way to cross the river from Tower Hill to Tooley Street in Southwark. Opened in 1870, Tower Subway was among the world's earliest underground ('tube') railway, but closed after just 3 months and was re-opened as a pedestrian foot tunnel. Once Tower Bridge was open, the majority of foot traffic transferred to using the bridge, there being no toll to pay to use it. Having lost most of its income, the tunnel was closed in 1898.

Tower Bridge is one of 5 London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. It is the only one of the Trust's bridges not to connect the City of London to the Southwark bank, the northern landfall being in Tower Hamlets. Construction started in 1887 and took 8 years with 5 major contractors, Sir John Jackson who built the foundations, Baron Armstrong responsible for the hydraulics, William Webster, Sir H.H. Bartlett, and Sir William Arrol & Co. has employed 432 construction workers. 

Two massive piers, containing over 70,000 tons of concrete, were sunk into the riverbed to support the construction. Over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways. This was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone, both to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the bridge a nicer appearance. The original brick facade with the more ornate Victorian Gothic style, which makes the bridge a distinctive landmark, and was intended to harmonise the bridge with the nearby Tower of London. The total cost of construction was £1.184 million, equivalent to £118 million in 2014.

The bridge is 44 m in length with 2 towers each 65 m high, built on piers. The central span of 61 m between the towers is split into 2 equal bascules or leaves, which can be raised to an angle of 86 degrees to allow river traffic to pass. The bascules, weighing over 1,000 tons each, are counterbalanced to minimise the force required and allow raising in five minutes. The 2 side-spans are suspension bridges, 82 m long each, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge's upper walkways. The pedestrian walkways are 44 m above the river at high tide.

IJM is building a luxury residential living Royal Mint Gardens, just behind the Tower London, within walking distance from Starbucks cafe that we stopped that day. During the launch, IJM has invited all staff for early booking. At that time, I had book a unit at Altitude 236, Bukit Mandarina Enclave. Should I know earlier of IJM's Land intention to launch the property, I would not hesitate to book in Royal Mint Gardens as I believed it's worth the investment due to it's strategic location and neighborhood's tourist attractions. 

Source of reference: Wikipedia

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