London

Tower Bridge closes until December for maintenance work

Tower Bridge Image copyright Getty Images

London's landmark Tower Bridge has closed to traffic on Saturday until the end of December for maintenance work.

The 122-year-old Victorian structure spanning the River Thames last underwent refurbishment in 1970.

The City of London Corporation, said work will take place on the timber decking, lifting mechanism and water proofing its brick arches.

The bridge will close for road traffic until 30 December but pedestrians can walk across on all but three weekends.

A free cross river ferry service will run when it is closed to pedestrians.

Tower Bridge will also continue to be open for river traffic and the viewing gallery along the walkways of the bridge will also remain open.

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Media captionTower Bridge will be closed until 30 December 2016

More than 21,000 vehicles and 40,000 people use the bridge everyday, owner the City of London Corporation said.

"This heavy use has had an effect on timber decking of the bridge, which was last refurbished in 1970.

"To ensure that the Bridge continues to serve as a vital river crossing we need to undertake the essential maintenance works," the corporation said.

Nearby Tooley Street is also closed eastbound until 2018 to allow Network Rail's rebuilding of London Bridge railway station.

Northbound traffic will be diverted via London Bridge and southbound via Southwark Bridge, and the works will be "disruptive", Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL said the diversions take people into the congestion charging zones but motorists will not be charged as long as they keep to the routes marked specifically as diversions.

The history of Tower Bridge

  • 1886 - It took eight years and 432 construction workers to build Tower Bridge, which opened in 1894
  • 1910 - The high-level walkways, which were designed so the public could still cross the bridge when it was raised, were closed down due to lack of use
  • 1912 - During an emergency, Frank McClean had to fly between the bascules and the high-level walkways in his Short biplane, to avoid an accident
  • 1952 - A London bus driven by Albert Gunter had to leap from one bascule to the other when the bridge began to rise with the number 78 still on it
  • 1977 - Tower Bridge was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Before that it was a chocolate brown colour

Source: Tower Bridge Exhibition

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