We have been lucky enough to have experienced some fantastic views over the London skyline from landmarks including the Shard, Sky Garden, London Eye and Tate Modern during previous visits to London but one landmark that was still on our to-do list was Tower Bridge.
This is the review of our visit to the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
If you were designing a bridge for Instagram then it would be Tower Bridge – it is arguably the most beautiful bridge in the world and a must see when in London.
We have crossed Tower Bridge at road level many times before but never at the very top of the bridge. This self-guided tour gave us the chance to experience this iconic bridge like we have never seen it before.
The high-level walkways were an original feature of the bridge included to allow pedestrians to cross the river even when the road bridge was opened.
However they were open to the elements and closed in 1910 until it reopened to the public as part of the Tower Bridge experience in 1982 and the recent addition of glass floors on both walkways provides a truly unique perspective of London.
After collecting our tickets (priced at a very reasonable £9.80 adult – £4.30 child) we were transported in a lift to the top of the North Tower to start our self-guided tour.
When we reached the top, we were transported back in time to Victorian London which Holly thought was fascinating especially as she is studying this period of history in school.
Through the various interactive displays and videos we all learnt about how the bridge was built and its history.
Excitedly we entered the first of the two walkways that span the top of Tower Bridge.
The best part of the experience is being able to walk across the 11 metre long glass floor sections in each walkway of Tower Bridge, 42 metres above the traffic and the Thames.
Once I adjusted to the fact that it was just panes of toughened glass between us and the passing cars, pedestrians and the river Thames below, it was one of the most unique experiences we have had in London.
Holly and Chloe had no such worries, as these daredevils lay down on the 11 metre long glass floor taking in the various vantage points encouraging my husband and I to join them.
This is actively encouraged by the staff who give out ‘Glass Floor – I did it’ stickers to prove you are brave enough to have walked, crawled or laid down on the floor.
Tip – For the best experience arrive as soon as the attraction opens, as it can get very busy especially on the glass walkway section later in the day.
I thought that the small sliding windows that are built into the larger windows along the walkway were a nice touch and allowed me to take photos of the skyline toward Canary Wharf and St Katherine’s Docks without the glare from the windows.
It was also surprising just how windy it was when these small windows were opened, but again I suppose being up at 43 metres meant we were pretty high up.
Next up was the South Tower which had exhibits and film on the architecture of the Bridge, but the girls quickly made a bee-line for second high-level walkway.
This provides some of the best and most unique views of the city skyline. We could see the modern skyscrapers including the Gherkin and the Shard as well as the historic buildings of the Tower of London and St Paul’s iconic domed roof.
What made the glass walkway in this section even more fun was that above it was a mirrored ceiling, allowing visitors to take the perfect selfie shot, much to the delight of Chloe and Holly.
There was also an interesting photo exhibition of 40 of the world’s most famous bridges including the Forth Rail Bridge from my home country of Scotland. This was really good fun with the kids as we tried to guess which bridges we could recognise.
The coin press machine was too hard to resist for Holly, and she left with a keepsake coin of her visit to Tower Bridge.
Victorian Engine Rooms
After taking in the rest of the views and a few more selfies, we took the lift back down to the ground floor and followed the blue trail across the bridge down to the engine rooms.
The Victorian era engine rooms, like the bridge itself, were impressive and it was explained how the bridge once required nearly 80 people to work the steam powered machines to raise the bridge several times a day.
Today, opening the bridge is powered by electricity but the spectacular Victorian engines, interactive exhibits and film really helped us learn about the importance of the bridge in engaging and interactive ways. I was amazed to find out that a London bus cleared the opening bridge in 1952.
You leave the experience via the gift shop and we enjoyed a lovely morning stroll along the South Bank to London Bridge tube station, taking in the sights of the city including the beautiful Tower Bridge.
We would highly recommend a visit to the Tower Bridge experience for families – it’s an attraction that the children will never forget visiting
Being able to walk across a glass walkway 42 metres high, with the Thames and traffic below your feet was such a fun and unique experience, plus the views of the city are amazing so don’t forget your camera.
For the latest opening times and prices visit the Tower Bridge website