Cabbie inventor of bridge game raises Tower Bridge
- 31 March 2013
- From the section London
A taxi driver who lived next to Tower Bridge for 37 years and invented a board game about the London landmark has raised the bridge.
James Walker, 54, from Bexley, south-east London, was inspired to design the game Bridge Up as he drove over the famous crossing one day.
He has been driving over it for 17 years, 20 to 30 times a week.
Raising the bridge was "an emotional experience", Mr Walker said, adding that his daughter Connie filmed it all.
Connie, 10, who played the prototype game with her father, was in the operating booth.
She helped him press the button to lift the bascules at 15:30 BST to make way for Sailing Barge Will, which is used for private charters.
Mr Walker, who has three children, grew up on the nearby Dickens Estate and said being allowed by the Corporation of London to raise the bridge was an honour.
He said: "I got emotional because it is something I have always wanted to do."
Mr Walker said he and his daughter got to stop the traffic and shut the gates of the bridge before they pressed the button to raise the bascules and waved the vessel through.
"It's unbelievable that it is so quiet and smooth, you would think it would be noisy.
"I got a fabulous certificate from the Corporation of London to say that I actually opened the bridge."
Remembering his childhood memories of the bridge he said: "It's just so beautiful.
"I used to play among the barges as a child and you look up and it could be frightening as a kid, but the more you hang around it the more you think it's a fabulous work".
The cab driver was told few members of the public got the chance to operate the bridge.
He came up with the idea for the game about two years ago and it is sold in the Tower Bridge gift shop.
Players answer questions about the bridge to collect lettered tokens and the winner is the first to race back to their dock and complete the words Bridge Up.
As well as driving over the bridge countless times, Mr Walker marched over it in a demonstration with printers as part of the Wapping dispute in the 1980s.