Location: Tower Bridge
Ticket Price: £9 for adults, £3.50 for children, £6.50 consession
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most cherished icons and at over 120 years old, one of its oldest. It works 365 days a year to connect north to south and to allow passage of taller ships deeper into the heart of London. It’s clearly well liked by foreign visitors too, as can be seen when flocks of tourists fight to get the best picture of the bridge opening.
Whilst I’ve always loved and admired Tower Bridge for its ingenuity, architecture and grace, I admit that it wasn’t until recently that knew the Tower Bridge Exhibition even existed. You can go inside it?! I said to myself as I came across a news bulletin announcing an exiting new upgrade to the attraction.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition is essentially a museum about Tower Bridge, located inside Tower Bridge. Now if you are very interested in this bridge (or any other bridge for that matter), that sounds wonderful, but for everyone else that description may sound a tad boring. What makes the Tower Bridge Exhibition a lot more exciting is that part of the attraction is located along the upper walkways 40 metres above ground.
And that exciting new upgrade I talked about? Two completely transparent glass walkways, so now you can look down as well as out (if you dare)!
This is no doubt an exciting addition to what otherwise may have been a nice but mundane attraction, but is this enough to justify spending your money to visit? Let me take you through my whole experience, then you can decide for yourself.
Tower Bridge Exhibition – The Review
Unfortunately I chose a dismal day to visit the exhibition, it was raining and visibility was poor. Never the less I was still excited for the opportunity to go inside a building that I had always associated with London.
A bit of a tip – The entrance to the attraction is on the one of the towers on the north side of the river, you’ll see a glass structure with most likely a crowd of people, this is where you can buy/redeem your tickets. There is a second part the attraction, the engine rooms, which is on the other side of the river and down some stairs, but you can’t go there till you have your tickets.
When I finally did arrive at the correct place, redeeming my tickets was a breeze. I showed my confirmation email to the man behind the desk and he scanned and printed my tickets, my bag was then checked by security and that was it! The whole entrance process took about 2 minutes, which is refreshing.
I was then offered a choice of taking the lift or the stairs. The staff member recommended the stairs as the architecture is quite impressive, this was enough to convince me.
She wasn’t kidding either. It was great to see the inner workings of the tower and its astonishing to think that most of it is 120 years old, it doesn’t look a day over 50! There is also plenty of interesting images and facts to keep you entertained as you climb the 60 or so stairs.
When you reach the top of the stairs you are greeted by a strange little presentation explaining how Tower Bridge came to be. The acting in this little film is nearly laughable, but it’s still informative and worth a watch.
Then we move on to the main event, the upper walkways located 42 metres above the River Thames.
As you can see, the attraction isn’t quiet, but there is still plenty of space to see the view and read the bits of information on offer. Speaking of the view, at 40 metres high, it isn’t anywhere near the best in London.
In most places the view is disrupted by the iron beams that criss cross the whole walkway, so it’s hard to get a clear view of the whole city. If you want to get the best and highest views of London, then I recommend The View from The Shard, which is nearly 7 times higher!
Still, the view certainly isn’t bad from up there and I would likely have been far more impressed on a clear, sunny day.
There are interactive screens which tell you where to get the best views and give a brief history of Tower Bridge. The whole walkway is also filled with facts on interesting bridges from around the world.
Now for the most interesting bit, the glass walkway.
As someone who suffers from vertigo from climbing a ladder, this was always going to be a challenge for me. It did take me a few minutes to pluck up the courage, but eventually I took that brave step. I’m glad I did too, because it’s a really fascinating experience watching the red buses and umbrella wielding citizens of London walk below you.
I even managed to take this video of me walking the entire walkway! Talk about suffering for your art. If you find that you really wouldn’t like to walk on the glass then you don’t have too, there are non transparent pathways either side of the glass.
Once you’ve experienced the walkway, there isn’t much left to do that repeat the experience on the opposite walkway! The views from the second walkway are far, but otherwise it’s nearly exactly the same as the first. If you are interested in seeing from great views of London from high up the check out this really useful comparison of London’s best viewing spots.
That’s it for the walkway part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Now you make your way back down the stairs and cross the bridge to enter the Engine rooms, which are located down the first set of stairs you see.
The Engine rooms house the Victorian steam engines that used to power the bridge lifts. There is also loads of slightly more technical information on how Tower Bridge was designed and how it works.
The Engines actually move which is quite cool, but otherwise there isn’t much to see. You’ll probably be ready to leave in 15 minutes once you’ve had your fill of bridge facts.
The whole experience shouldn’t last more than an hour, which means it fits nicely into a busy day of sightseeing.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy myself when I bought my tickets to the Tower Bridge Exhibition. I’m not that interested in how the bridge works, I don’t like heights and I’ve seen better views. Fortunately I was proved wrong! I found the whole thing fascinating, thrilling and informative.
Being inside a structure I’ve seen on TV, Movies and on my way to work countless times is a great thrill on its own. The addition of the glass walkways adds a much-needed adrenaline boost to the whole experience and the information available is presented in a fun and interactive way.
For the price this is a steal, tourists will be able to tell their friends they walked inside the worlds most famous bridge and Londoners will learn something about one of their city’s symbols.
Tower bridge exhibition tickets can be booked here: http://www.getyourguide.com/tower-bridge-exhibition
I also have an exclusive 15% discount for the Tower bridge Exhibition and Thames River Cruise for Two. Go to this website: http://www.redletterdays.com/tower-bridge-and-river-cruise-for-two – At the checkout use the promotional code ‘LON15′