The Tower Bridge opens its bascules 800 times a year, which amounts to roughly twice a day. Although this seems like a big number, it is nothing compared to the first year of operation. In 1894, the Bridge’s bascules were lifted more than 6000 times, that is 17 times a day!
These massive counterweighted structures had to be designed to lift, allowing ships to pass underneath the bridge. The bascules were constructed in two halves, which were then lifted into place using hydraulic cranes. Once in place, the two halves were bolted together, and the counterweights were added.
Today, the Tower Bridge is used by over 40,000 people per day. Despite its size, it only takes the bridge about 75 seconds to open completely, and 2 and a half minutes to open and close. When the bridge first opened, it was powered by coal-burning steam engines. Today, the bridge is raised through a combination of hydraulic pumps powered by oil and electricity, aided by heavy counterweights.
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Content from the ‘Tower Bridge Self-guided Tour’ on the Guidee app.