Detective Shaw’s London: Tower Bridge

The bridge over the Thames which more than any other is considered a symbol of London is undoubtedly Tower Bridge, so called because it connects the village of Southwark to the Tower of London, located on the western edge of the borough of Tower Hamlets, on the border with the City.

The Tower Bridge is made up of two towers, connected by a road, which constitutes the central span, and by pedestrian walkways running above it. The former is made up of two mobile portions, which can be raised to allow the passage of taller boats. On both sides there are as many spans, which are proper suspension bridges.

Its construction was completed in 1894, and initially the opening mechanism was powered by steam engines, which remained in operation until 1976. Nowadays, these are replaced by the latest modern technologies, which allow their complete opening in just ninety seconds.
It is also true, however, that the bridge is opened quite rarely (about a thousand times in a year, therefore less than three per day), so much so that it is said that seeing it open brings good luck. However, the Victorian engines are still present within the structure and can be visited.
Pedestrians can also access the high-level walkways (renovated in 2009), which have a glass floor, and from there enjoy a fascinating view of the city and the river. To do this they have to climb almost three hundred steps, but they can also take a lift. The walkways often host special exhibitions and other events.

Access to the Victorian walkways and engine rooms is included in the Tower Bridge Exhibition and is possible upon payment of a ticket, which can also be purchased online. These are open every day of the year, except for 24, 25, and 26 December.

Tower Bridge underwent a four-year renovation from 2008 to make it ready for the Olympics and Paralympics, which were held in London in 2012. In conjunction with these events, their symbols were respectively suspended from the walkways (as you can see in the photos taken by me in August 2012 with the five Olympic rings).
For some strange reason, Tower Bridge is often called London Bridge, in reality this is a mistake, since London Bridge is another very distinct bridge.

You can get to Tower Bridge from the Tower Hill Tube station, from which you can also easily reach the Tower of London, where you can visit, among other things, the English Crown Jewels.

The monument is actually a real castle which in the past also served as a prison (until 1952) and where prisoners were executed, but in its history it had many other functions, including that of a royal residence. For more information on the Tower of London, I recommend you visit its official website, where it is also possible to purchase entrance tickets online with a small discount on the price.

If, however, you want to get to Tower Bridge from Southwark, you have to get off at London Bridge station, which is very close to
The Shard (in the third photo in the background, while in the foreground there is a part of the Tower of London; this photo was also taken by me in August 2012).

Tower Bridge also makes an appearance in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy, and in particular in “Syndrome”. This happens in the same scene where The Shard appears, during which DI Miriam Leroux and Sergeant Mills are the protagonists of a spectacular (in the minds of those who imagine it, hopefully!) car chase ending in an accident on the bridge. To find out who the two police officers were chasing and whether the fugitive was then caught, you will have to read the book.

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