Back in October we spent the day down in London. We were reviewing the Tower of London for part of my son’s Tudor project at school. I wasn’t sure if we’d spend all day at the Tower but did know we’d take a walk along the Thames before heading home. As we traveled down to London by train I’d checked out the 2 for 1 deals that our train line offered and spotted one that might work out really well for us. With my son you have to drip feed some things, so he has time to process the idea, springing things on him invariably backfires. I mentioned the idea of exploring the Tower Bridge Experience if we had time later in the day. He’s not great with heights but he loves engineering, so the idea wasn’t totally dismissed.
Exploring the Tower Bridge Experience is something I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s such an iconic London landmark and an architectural delight. I can remember as kids my brother and I would love it if Dad drove us over the bridge on the way to see my Granny in Kent (long before the M40 and M25). We’d got to see a little of the inside of one of the towers a few years ago during a blogging event, but hadn’t been able to fully explore.
We’d finished our day at the Tower just after 3pm so an afternoon exploring the Tower Bridge Experience seemed like a really good way to finish off our day in London. It’s literally right next to the Tower and the entrance to the experience is in the North Tower, closest to our side of the Thames.
Information is available as you queue to start your time exploring the Tower Bridge Experience about timings for any passing ships that require the bridge to be raised. Sadly on our visit the next ship would be passing through a little too late for us to witness, but we had seen the bridge raised when we were at a blogging event a few years before.
A lift take you up to the exhibition within the North Tower and back in time to the 19th century where you can sit and watch a short film and soak up the atmosphere.
From here you move through to the first walkway which links the towers 42 metres up in the air. You don’t feel at all exposed walking along the walkways and there’s lots to look at and read about too. Both walkways are fully enclosed too, and you really don’t feel that high up as you look across London.
There are lots of information points along both walkways and my son was fascinated by them, and wasn’t phased at all by the height we were at as he read the various boards.
We’ve been to London a number of times over the years and my nearly 8 year old is familiar with the skyline, but it’s always great to see it all from a different viewpoint and spot various landmarks.
There’s an added element to both walkway walks in the form of the glass floor sections. It is possible to walk around these sections if you’re really not keen on looking down at the passing traffic and pedestrians. I found it totally fascinating, if a little strange to start with. There’s a mirrored ceiling above the glass floors so if you look up you get an even weird perspective of the view. This was the only part of exploring the Tower Bridge Experience that my son wasn’t sure of to start with. He took a bit of coaxing and convincing to even step on the glass. But by the end of our time on the walkways he was happily walking across and looking down by himself. I hadn’t realised that his efforts were being watched by a member of staff who kindly gave him an achievers sticker when he’d completed his first walk. One happy boy.
The South Tower features a short film showing the history of the construction of Tower Bridge which is well worth watching.
It’s possible to take the lift or stairs back to the ground floor from here, we’d recommend the stairs so you can see some the London landmarks lit up as you pass.
From the base of South Tower it’s a short walk along the bridge footpath to reach the engine rooms for the final part of our time exploring the Tower Bridge Experience.
This is a fascinating part of the experience, as you get to see the coal burners and steam engines that once fuelled the bridge. There’s lots of information about people who’ve worked on the bridge over the years and we all really enjoyed this element of our visit.
It’s hard to believe that the bridge used to be opened between 20-30 times a day and it wasn’t until 1976 that the steam engines were made redundant as electricity took over.
If we’d have had more time we’d have made use of the deal for The Monument combination ticket too. We can all thoroughly recommend the Tower Bridge Experience, it’s totally unique and we all came away with a much great understanding of one of our favourite London landmarks. There are a number of ticketing options available and as I mentioned earlier, we’d made use of a 2 for 1 offer with our train tickets.