Tower Bridge Tour &
All Hallows Church
Friday 18th September 2015
Although this trip was fully booked (20 members) unfortunately three had to pull out at the last minute. We wish them well and a speedy recovery.
Our walk from London Bridge was enjoyable but brisk in order that we arrived at Tower Bridge by our allocated time of 10.15 am for the guided tour. Our guide was very informative (as one would hope) and very open to any questions we may have had.
We learnt that this Victorian bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones the City Architect in collaboration with John Wolfe Barry. The construction of Tower Bridge commenced on 22nd April 1886 and was opened on 30th June 1894. During this period, ten men lost their lives building the bridge whereas the same contractors on a previous project had lost 50 men. It was proof that Health & Safety had taken a radical change.
At 42 metres above the river Thames, we were able to look through the glass floor panels down onto the traffic below and view any boats that may be passing under the bridge at the same time. It was a photo opportunity for the brave to lay down on the glass panels. The tour included a walk along the East Walkway as well as the West to enjoy the views both up and down the river. The engine rooms, where the old disused engines are immaculately maintained by the current maintenance staff were fascinating, as was the whole tour. Since 1976 the bascules have been driven by oil and electricity rather than steam.
A table had been booked at Valentino’s (on the river south side) for lunch to enable us all to sit together and enjoy our chosen lunch before heading off back towards Tower Bridge and then walk across to the northern side of the Thames to All Hallows Church, the oldest Church in the City.
This church was founded by the Abbey of Barking in 675 AD, 300 years before the Tower of London. The church has cared for numerous beheaded bodies brought for temporary burial following their executions on Tower Hill, including those of Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and Archbishop Laud.
Although we had not booked a tour, we were lucky enough to join one when we arrived at the church. The Tour Guide tour was very detailed in his knowledge of the history of the church and the crypt below.
A table had been reserved for us all to sit together again and enjoy a nice pot of tea and cake in the church café at the end of our second tour of the day.
Whilst walking back along the Thames towards London Bridge we turned just in time to see Tower Bridge closing, as if to confirm that our day was complete and time it was, indeed time to go.