London's population expanded rapidly during the nineteenth century and a new river crossing was badly needed downstream from London Bridge. The Thames was a busy trade route then and any design had to allow merchant ships to reach the Pool of London. Many proposals were considered before Sir Horace Jones, the City's architect came up with a bascule bridge design (from the French word for see-saw). Working with the engineer John Wolfe Barry construction started in 1886 and the bridge was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on 30 June 1894.
Tower Bridge is 940 feet (286 metres) long with a 200 foot (61 m) central span and each of the lifting bascules carrying the roadway weighs 1,200 tons. Its steel skeleton is clad in stone. Two walkways at the top allowed pedestrians to cross when the bascules were opened but most people preferred to watch it in action. Raising and lowering the bascules was done hydraulically utilising steam power which was replaced by electricity from 1976. In 1977 the bridge was painted in its blue, white and red colours having been brown then grey earlier.
This gallery shows a selection of some of the images of Tower Bridge available on Collage. The Tower Bridge Experience allows people to step inside the bridge and explore its history. For more details visit http://www.towerbridge.org.uk