London introduced visitors to its newest attraction on Monday: a glass floored walkway at Tower Bridge. The floor sits on the Tower’s upper walkways at 138 feet high, overlooking the River Thames.
At 11m long and 1.8m wide, the toughened glass West Walkway is comprised of six panels, which are 68mm thick, each weighing approximately 530kg. Dubbed the “wow project,” the site offers tourists and locals a distinct perspective of the world-famous bridge lifting, as well as the boat and car traffic below. The floor also exposes the steel latticework of the bridge itself as a number of steel panels were removed to clear the view, with the condition that they could be restored.
“For the first time ever, visitors will be able to experience a never-seen-before viewpoint of London – the Thames, road and pedestrian life, all moving at pace 42 metres below,” said Christopher Earlie, the business and marketing manager from the bridge.
The walkway’s opening has been marked as the most significant revision to Tower Bridge, since the opening of its exhibition center in 1982. Its construction evolved in consultation with English Heritage, an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government.
This year also marks the Grade 1 listed structure’s 120th birthday, following its design by Sir Horace Jones in 1884 and opening on June 1894 by the Prince of Wales, who was later crowned King Edward VII.
“The opening of Tower Bridge marked the dawn of a legendary feat of engineering creating what is considered by many as the most famous bridge in the world,” Earlie added.
Any vessel or ship tall enough to require the raising of the bascules to pass underneath is able to solicit a bridge lift, provided that a 24 hours beforehand notice is given, thereby enforcing the rights of river traffic over road traffic.
Originally, the walkways were created to ensure that even during a bridge lift, pedestrians would be able to cross the river unobstructed. However, the paths were closed in 1910 – till their reopening in 1982 – after they had become an area for “prostitutes and pickpockets.”
The Tower’s East Walkway is scheduled to open next month on December 1st.