Visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition

Tower Bridge map
Address:
Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road SE1 2UP
Tel:
Work 0207 403 3761
Web:
towerbridge.org.uk

Opening times and price

Opening hours:
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun, Apr-Sep); 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, Oct-Mar); Last entry 30 mins before closing
Ticket cost:
Adults £9.80; Children £4.20 (5-15); Infants free entry (under-5); Family ticket £22.00
Visiting hours and entry charges are subject to change
Time required:
A typical visit to Tower Bridge lasts 45-60 mins (approx)

Getting to Tower Bridge

Parking:
Find car parks near Tower Bridge
Taxis:
Find minicab firms near Tower Bridge
Buses:
15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
London bus fares
Trains:
Tower Gateway DLR, Tower Hill CRC DSC
The nearest train station to Tower Bridge is Tower Hill
London underground fares
Tower Bridge is #7 in our London Bucket List
Tower Bridge Good for kids? Value for money? Worth a visit? 203

Craig recommends… Here’s my latest Tower Bridge review. If you want to see the drawbridge being raised then we keep a list of the scheduled bridge lift times in our events guide. You might like to combine a trip to Tower Bridge with a visit to the Tower of London nextdoor.

Tower Bridge is No.2 in our Top 10 list of London landmarks, and No.5 in the Top 10 London photos.

Tower Bridge in London

History of Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is one of the most famous sights in the City, but despite its Gothic exterior it has only been a London landmark for a little over a hundred years. Before that time the most easterly crossing in the capital was at London Bridge – but the city’s rapid expansion meant that another was needed by 1870.

Tower Bridge from Butler’s Wharf

A design competition was launched amongst the nation’s engineers with a few provisos: 1) London’s docks were still in use, so the new bridge had to allow tall-masted ships to pass beyond, and 2) it had to be big enough to allow vehicles to cross over the top.

The winning design came from Horace Jones, whose two towers supported a central drawbridge which could be raised by two huge engines. The engines were fed by six water tanks hidden inside the mock-Gothic towers.

Tower Bridge drawbridge lifting up

The construction of Tower Bridge began in 1886, and the cost of construction was £1,184,000 (roughly £122 million in today’s money). It was opened by the future Edward VII in 1894.

The Tower Bridge Exhibition

Tourists doing a Tower Bridge tour can visit the two towers and the walkways as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition. It includes a museum filled with facts, films and photos about the bridge’s history. You can also visit the original Victorian engine rooms.

The Tower Bridge drawbridge

Craig’s review of Tower Bridge

This review originally appeared in his London blog

Everyone has to visit Tower Bridge at least once during their holiday, but take a tip from me: don’t bother going inside. I knew it was going to be rubbish when the first thing they did after you hand over your money is make you stand in front of a big screen for a green-screen photo. Then they try and flog you some mouse mats and cups and keyrings with your face superimposed on them. (When you’ve got a face like mine, the last thing you want is your ugly mug on a mug!)

The Tower Bridge Exhibition

The first part of the Tower Bridge tour is a sit-down movie which lasts for about five minutes. It explains why they needed to build the bridge, who came up with the idea, and how they actually built it. It’s interesting enough if you like bridges, I suppose, but a lot of people didn’t bother waiting for the end and strolled out halfway through. I decided to soldier on to the end. But when they showed another video a in the next room I decided I had already done my duty and sneaked out with them.

When people visit Tower Bridge they want to see two things: firstly, they want to stand on the riverbank and watch the drawbridge going up and down (see here for Tower Bridge’s scheduled lift times); and then they want to visit the walkway at the top for some views down the Thames. But the walkways at the top are the most disappointing bit. For starters, they are both closed off to the weather behind big steel girders and a layer of glass, which totally messes up your photos.

The Tower Bridge walkways

You can see the Tower of London and the battle cruiser HMS Belfast. City Hall and The Shard are nice and easy as well. And you can have a distant view of the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf.

View from the Tower Bridge Exhibition

The little exhibitions are hardly worth bothering with. The first one is just a collection of photos of famous bridges around the world. They’ve got a picture of Brooklyn Bridge, for example, and Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a hundred others that you’ve never heard of… all padded out with Top Trump-style facts like how long they are, and what year they were built.

Tower Bridge glass floor

The second exhibition is just a collection of black and white photos of London. Being a London nut I actually found this quite interesting, but I’m not sure how fun it will be for a tourist. [Note: They’ve improved the walkways by installing some see-through glass floors. Have a read of my latest review of Tower Bridge to see what I thought of the glass walkways.]

Engine Room in the Tower Bridge Exhibition

It gets a bit better when you go downstairs to the Victorian engine room. You’ll find a few push-button models of the bridge for the kids to mess round with, and the actual engine rooms themselves are worth a quick look. It would have been better if they were actually going round and round and pumping up and down, but they are no longer in use. You just stand behind a barrier and stare at them.

After that you get led straight to the shop, and that’s about it. You can do the whole thing from start to finish in thirty minutes flat – and ten of those I spent watching those two movies.

 
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  • mike – “Although I found the exhibition bit a bit boring (i'm not into stuff like that) it was well worth it just for the view across the walkway at the top. The tower of London is just next door and you can literally look down into it. You can see right up thethames seeing st pauls and city hall and hms belfast (which is also very close, just below you). You get a good view of the skyscrapers at canary wharf as wll. I thought the whole thing was worth it just for that. There's not many places you can go in London for good views. The only other one I have been to that I recommend is the view at the top of st. Pauls, when you go outside.”
  • JerrySmith – “Tower bridge is worth a morning of your time just for the views. If I went again, then I would skip the exhibition, because if you're not into architecture or engineering (which is most of us, I would imagine) then it's quite boring. But to be fair, there is not a lot else that they could show. It is quite interesting seeing how the bridge works, and how they open and close it, I suppose. But when you get up to the top walkway all is forgiven, because the views up the river are great. The view to the west is the best, and even in the east you still have things like the skyscrapers of canary wharf. Tower bridge is probably the furthest point east which most tourists go, so this may be their only view of canary wharf, and it's a corker.”

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Events at Tower Bridge

   to Tower Bridge London

If you enjoy this then try: St. Katherine Docks (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Tower of London (you can walk it in 6 mins).

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