2 1/2 years of visiting/living in London and I finally got the chance to see Tower Bridge lift it’s bascules!
Bascules are the technical name for a part of a bridge which can lift open. Therefore Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge (also a suspension bridge too).
It takes Tower Bridge one minute and fifteen seconds to open/lift to allow boats and ships through, so two and a half minutes to open and close in total.
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However, the bascules can lift to near 90 degrees if needed, when ships such as the HMS Edinburgh the need to pass under. So The bascule operator of Tower Bridge can vary the lift needed and times could take longer to open and close (I reckon closer to the three and a half minute mark fully lifted).
It never occurred to me that Tower Bridge had this ability. Has Tower Bridge ever featured in a movie where a car jumps from one side to the other as it opens? The Spice Girls movie does not count.
In 2009, Motocross star Robbie Maddison jumped an opening Tower Bridge for a Red Bull campaign, whilst performing a no handed backflip no less.
On 30th December 1952, Tower Bridge began to open while a double decker bus was on it! Luckily, the bus driver noticed and acted quickly by accelerating onto the other side. Apparently, the person in charge of making sure the bridge is clear of traffic didn’t notice the double decker bus. It’s only a double decker bus ya know! Would make a great Specsavers ad don’t you think? Only minor injuries were sustained to those on board. The driver, Albert Gunter, received a £10 bonus from the TFL for his actions.
In 2012, Tower Bridge once opened to let a duck through… Okay, it was a 50ft rubber duck as part of a promotional campaign for Jackpotjoy.com!
All of this might not have been possible as many original designs for Tower Bridge did not feature bascules. We have engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry to thank that it does.
How often does Tower Bridge open and close every day? It’s best to check the the bridge lift times here.
Have you seen Tower Bridge opening for ships? Tell me in the comments section below!