1892 London’s Tower Bridge Under Construction

As most of you know I am quite passionate about engineering & structures!!! (Which is probably my main reason for wanting to return to France & the Eiffel Tower!!!! 😉 ) – – – Seeing that I still don’t have internet at home yet, I thought I’d share with you a very interesting & informative post of the Tower Bridge!!! My boss sent me this email this morning… & I’m to excited about it not to share it!!!! 😀 Needless to say, the source is my own personal email – if the facts aren’t quite correct, please let me know & I’ll gladly research it…. this is a copy paste from my email!!! 🙂

When I do eventually have internet again I’ll post some of my personal photos that I took of my visits to the Tower Bridge. Also, for another piece of interesting information/trivia on the Tower Bridge & its history, visit Cindy’s blog, Photos from the Loony Bin!!!

“… Pictures of the Tower Bridge during construction

By Daily Mail  Reporter
Last updated at 5:01 PM on 29th November 2011

This is one of the London’s most beloved landmarks as you’ve never seen her before. stripped down to her underwear, the never before seen pictures of the Tower Bridge — one of the world’s most recognizable structures — have been unveiled after the stash of hundred-year-old prints were found in a skip.

Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the bridge’s foundation, the 50 sepia photos reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the British capital’s most popular tourist destinations, which was the first bridge of its kind in the world.

Never seen before: The pictures of London’s Tower Bridge were found in a skip and then wrapped up in brown paper and put in a carrier bag under a bed.

The unique pictures, dating back to 1892, document the construction the iconic bridge, which at the time was a landmark feat of engineering nicknamed “The Wonder Bridge”.   The discarded pictures, which were retrieved by a caretaker who was looking after a building being turned into flats in 2006, have spent the last five years in a carrier bag underneath his bed.

The 59 year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that after the occupants of the Westminster office building moved out, the album and a number of documents were thrown into a skip outside.  He said: “I took the ledgers to the Tower Bridge Museum because I thought they might have some historical value.”

Remarkable find:   The prints reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the British capital’s most popular tourist attractions and how it was put together.

A view of the bridge:  The sturdy steel frame of the Tower Bridge can be seen, before it was covered with its distinctive stone-cladding on the orders of architect John Wolfe-Barry.

They included records of the materials and used in the bridge’s construction and what they cost. “I told the man at the museum that I had also found some photos but he told me they already had plenty of those. I didn’t know what to do with them so I wrapped them in some brown paper and put them in a bag under the bed.”

It wasn’t until earlier this month, when the owner of the photos mentioned them to his neighbour, City of Westminster tour guide, Peter Berthoud, that the significance of the find fully emerged. Mr Berthoud, an expert in the history of London, who gives guided tours around famous landmarks including the Tower Bridge, said that he was gobsmacked by the haul.

Stripped down:  The photographs show how the bridge was put together over eight years, revealing why it was nicknamed at the time the “Wonder Bridge”.

Landmark:  The Tower Bridge remains one of the British capital’s most iconic structures and a tourist attraction today, 125 years after building started.

Sepia to silver screen:  The incomplete Tower Bridge features in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, where Holmes battles with his adversary Lord Henry Blackwood.

Contrary to popular misconception, the images reveal the bridge is a sturdy steel frame beneath the instantly recognisable stone cladding.   Mr Berthoud said: “When my neighbour gave me a disk with the ages on I just couldn’t believe it. I spent hours going through my books to see if these pictures were already around but I couldn’t see them anywhere — they are unique. Quite simply London’s Tower Bridge is the world’s most iconic bridge and it’s the only bridge over the Thames which has never needed to be replaced at some point.

Discovery:  Peter Berthoud was gobsmacked when his neighbour showed him the haul of photos. He spent hours going through books to find something similar, only to discover they are unique.

Transformation:  The bridge took eight years to build and at the time was a landmark feat of engineering, combining elements of a suspension and high level bridge and a bascule.

It combines elements of a suspension bridge, a high level bridge and a bascule which allows it to open for ships to pass. Nothing had ever been made like it before and nothing since. People are always surprised when I tell them the the Tower Bridge is a steel bridge, as the stone cladding is so recognizable.

According to the tour guide, the bridge’s original architect, Horace Jones, wanted to clad the bridge in brick but following his death he was succeeded as architect by John Wolfe-Barry, who decreed the bridge should be clad in stone.

Development:   Photographs show the progress in the construction process, from basic structures to something easily recognisable as the Tower Bridge as we know it today.

Unique:  Many of the 50 sepia prints are in good condition, despite dating back to 1892.   Several are even dated, making it possible to trace the progress in construction.

Although many of the century-old pictures are in a state of disrepair, around 20 are in good condition. Many of the 12 by 10 snaps are dated and clearly show how the bridge was put together over a space of eight years. Memorable scenes include turn-of-the-century laborers taking orders from a site foreman in a bowler hat and a shot if the bridge’s original steam-powered engine room, which could open the bridge in less than a minute. In one poignant picture flags decorate the body of the bridge and a hand-written pencil note reads: Note, flags denote Mr Hunter’s wedding day.

Mr Berthoud said: “My favorite pictures are of the simple, humble guys building the bridge, unaware that what they are making will be so historic. People are used to seeing images of the Empire State Building being built but this is part of British history being created 50 years earlier …”

I love this email!!!! It is sooooo awesome & a special piece of history!!! Pretty freaken awesome right??? 😀 Do stay tuned for my soon to come Tower Bridge photos!!! & don’t forget to visit Cindy’s post here!!!

Have a great day everybody!!! 😀 **

41 thoughts on “1892 London’s Tower Bridge Under Construction

  1. the island traveler

    It’s amazing , even humbling when we look back at history of how things were made. The brilliant minds, the sweat , blood and tears that went with the construction. The human will to create and overcome. Powerful, moving, beautiful. Thank you. Stay blessed always…

  2. moosenoose

    Wow they are amazing! Why why why do people throw photos away? Arrggghhh makes me so angry. My uncle threw away photos of my family going back generations. I could have dumped him in a skip.

  3. Victor Ho

    Take pictures today of construction. Throw it under your bed for one hundred years and voila! I’ve been keeping a loose log of the construction at the World Trade Center site. But in an age of digital, I hardly think anything that I have is going to be unique. But still….

  4. johnstirlingphotography

    Wow! Xandre, this is a wonderful post! I just love old historical photographs, and what a find these are! Never seen before! It’s as good as having watched the first man step onto the Moon! Makes you tingle! Who would have thought that under the stone of the towers was all of that steel structure work? It actually looks like a giant Meccano set! I always think that reading about history is fine, but it is historical photographs and film that really bring it to life because what you are looking at was actual real life! I haven’t seen an article on these in the newspapers or on the news over here so I think you might have a ‘scoop’ here, Xandre! Oh, and I really enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes film and am awaiting the next one on Blu Ray!



    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      Yes John….. I would NEVER have guessed that there was tons of steel behind that facade!!! – – – Although, thinking logically about how the bridge works, it makes sense?? – – – Also a huge fan of the Sherlock series!!! The second one does not disappoint!!! 😉 **

  5. Pingback: 1892 London's Tower Bridge Under Construction | Xandré Verkes - Lengoo Rants – views on Life and London

  6. SL Schildan

    Fascinating post!! Those photos are gorgeous. Funny how I never liked history when I was in school, I blame that on the boring way it was presented. 😉

    I hope internet comes back into your home life!! Bet HWTHB is glad it’s out, keeps you from spending your evenings blogging.

    Hugs, 😀

    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      I blame them to Shez!!!! & I blame what type of history they tried to teach me!!!!! If they gave me information like this…. I would probably have become a historian 😉 😉 !!!!

      HWTHB is delighted that my internet is not working!!! But I must say, it is quite nice not spending sooooo much time on the computer!!! I think I must limit the amount of posts a week in order for my internet to make it through the month!!!
      Hugs!! 🙂 **

  7. Susie C.

    Yes, Xandre, that WAS pretty awesome! I’m glad you shared this — those photos came so close to being lost forever, and now we all get to be fascinated by them!

    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      Thanks Susie!!! I am amazed by the amount of interest that it got….. Hopefully I’ll get something similar soon!!!! Getting the vibe that people like these kind of informative posts!!! 🙂 **

  8. Judy

    Xandre…what a wonderful post! I learned so much from you! I love old photos~they are gorgeous and seem to be in pretty good shape. And the story/text was extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      Thank you Judy!!!! I am super psyched that so many people like this post!!! 🙂 Makes me all fuzzy inside!!! 😉 I really hope that I can share something of similar interest in the near future!!! History does have some special kind of magic doesn’t it?? 🙂 **

  9. Pingback: John’s Mega Awards Ceremony! « John Stirling Photography

  10. Pingback: What I know to be true « Art Teach Travel

Please leave a comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s