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Tower Bridge

History • Engineering • Design

Kenneth Powell


Published to coincide with its 125th anniversary, a major new illustrated study of a remarkable piece of architecture and engineering, and one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks

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Tower Bridge is one of the most remarkable and recognizable bridges in the world. Completed in 1894, at a time when London was one of the world’s busiest trading ports, handling goods from all corners of the British Empire and beyond, it served as a gateway to the capital and a key crossing point over the River Thames.

Designed by Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry, Tower Bridge is an astonishing feat of engineering, containing a special counterweight mechanism that allows the roadway to lift so that ships can pass beneath. At the opening ceremony on 30 June 1894, spectators were ‘spellbound and speechless’ when the bridge was lifted, according to The Times. Today, the bridge is raised on average twice a day, and it is still an impressive spectacle. This book charts the story of the bridge from the earliest plans for a river crossing on this site, through the complex evolution of its development, to its construction and operation, offering the reader insights into its architecture and engineering history, while also shedding light on the people who worked on it. It contains specially commissioned photographs and a wealth of archival images, including a sequence showing the bridge at every stage of construction. Also included are the original working drawings for the bridge, some of which have never been published. This book will fascinate and inform anyone interested in engineering, architecture and the history of London.

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'This lavish volume, filled with illustrations ancient and modern, tells you everything you might want to know about the bridge’s remarkable engineering … [a] fine book'
Times Literary Supplement

'A very handsome book'
BBC Radio London

'An engaging story made even more alluring through the 212 images packed into 192 pages. Powell has seemingly exhausted every possible source to bring together an extraordinary collection of photographs, illustrations and architectural drawings of the bridge'
Waterways World

'Beautifully presented … this book does not limit itself in topic, background or illustrations'
Building Engineer

'An excellent, highly readable, beautifully illustrated new book'
The Happy Pontist

'A comprehensive, lavishly illustrated guide to Tower Bridge offering great insight into the design, construction and operation of such a magnificent structure'
Best of British

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.0 x 20.5 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Illustrations: 212

Publication date: 21 February 2019

ISBN: 9780500343494

Contents List

1. The River Thames Before Tower Bridge • 2. Bridging the Thames • 3. Building Tower Bridge • 4. Tower Bridge in Operation • 5. An Icon of London • 6. The Workers of Tower Bridge

About the Author

Kenneth Powell is an architectural historian, critic and consultant. He has written extensively on 20th-century and contemporary British architecture, and is the author of books on the work of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and other major British architects. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has served on the Council of the Architectural Association.