The picturesque port of Geiranger, Norway!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hornindal, Norway!

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Exploring southwestern Norway until July 26th.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tower Bridge and the Fire Monument

Yesterday morning we walked down to Tower Bridge. This bridge is one of the most famous in the world, however it is often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge up river. Tower Bridge was built in six years and was opened in 1894. From the top of this bridge you can get some of the best views of London!

It was a 5 km (3 mile) walk from the house to the bridge. With all the walking we've been doing, this is nothing!

Wandered around the Petticoat Lane market for a while. Mostly clothes, but if I needed some the prices seemed reasonable!

The overhead bridge walkways only open to the public at 10:00am, and we got there around noon. This particular day, the bridge itself was closed to traffic because they were installing the Olympic rings below the walkways. It'll look pretty neat with the rings there, so hopefully we'll get to see them before we leave London. It costs £8.00 ($13.12) to do the bridge exhibition, but if you want to go to the top of the fire monument as well it is £9.00 ($14.76) per person to do both of them. The fire monument on it's own is £3.00 ($4.92). 

Looking east towards the Canary Wharf office towers.

Inside, a neat sculpture of men building the bridge. There were absolutely no health and safety rules during the eight years that it took to build the bridge, and ten workers lost their lives during the construction.

The upper walkways are lined with exhibits about other famous bridges around the world, and now a special exhibition about other cities that have hosted the summer Olympics.

Interestingly, the upper walkways were designed so that people could still walk across the bridge when the lower part was opened for boats to cross. But it was closed in 1910 due to lack of use. It didn't re-open to the public until 1982 despite the fact that some of the best views of London are from the walkways.

Looking west

Looking north west. In the bottom right is the Tower of London. That's where we're going today!

Closed to traffic yesterday for installation of the Olympic rings that will hang from the overhead walkway.

Admission fee includes entrance to the old coal heated hydraulic steam engine rooms. This is how they operated the bridge from 1894 to 1976 when they were switched over to oil and electricity.

When we were done, we sat outside and had lunch.

Then we walked about 1.5 kms (.9 miles) over to the Fire Monument. 

We walked by the Tower of London where we will be visiting today!

Saw the Hung Drawn and Quartered pub. The sign below says "I went to see Major General Harrison hung, drawn, and quartered. He was looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition." Samuel Pepys, 13th October, 1660.

A narrow lane in downtown London.

The Fire Monument was built as a lasting reminder to the great London fire of 1666. It is 202 feet high and was completed in 1677.

Looking down the 311 steps leading to the observation platform.

Looking east towards Tower Bridge.

London, south of the River Thames.

At around 20 stories, the tower is still taller than most surrounding structures. Quite a feat to build something like this in 1677!

It costs £3.00 to hike to the top of the tower. Or, for £6.00 more, you can buy entrance to both the Fire Monument and the Tower Bridge. I think that for £9.00 ($14.76), this is probably the best value for your money of you want to have some beautiful views of London. It took us about two hours to do both attractions, including the walk in between them so that's not bad.

Then we walked over to the Museum of London, which is free. This is a worthwhile place to spend another hour or two, even if you do it quickly. The great thing about museums being free is that you don't feel like you've wasted anything if you just opt for a quick tour. So we got a bit of an education regarding the history of London. No flash photography allowed, although I did take one photo before we noticed the signs saying so!

This is a surgeons tool kit from around 1836. Apparently they performed lots of amputations back then. Anesthetic? What's that?! Nasty.

It was almost 5:00pm by the time we decided to head home. I noticed one foot was getting a bit sore, so rather than risk aggravating it, we took the underground and overground trains back home. It is such an efficient way of travelling!

In the downtown core, you sometimes have to take a couple of these long escalators to get down to the tube platform. Way deep down!

Another busy day today as we are off to the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels!


  1. It so happened that we were chatting with a "bloke" who works for my wife's company at the gathering we went to last weekend, and he was talking about places to go, that kind of thing.
    One of the things he said was, "Don't go to London, they just want you money."
    But, I think that's just in keeping with the "big city" end of things. I still wouldn't mind seeing London. But in the meanwhile, your pictures and experiences are working just fine. Keep up the good work!


    1. It could definitely be expensive to visit London if you wanted to see lots of the attractions but if you are careful and selective you can still enjoy London without spending a fortune. Mind you, we are lucky that we have somewhere to stay so we don't have to worry about the cost of accommodation and the extra expense of having to eat out. If you have to pay for that it could add up VERY fast.

  2. Love the free tour of London, keep up the good work and enjoy.

  3. great day in London!..thank you for sharing your walking tour!

  4. Wow, what an amazing day you had. It was very interesting. Love the old architecture.

  5. 311 steps???? Glad you made the trip for me. The pictures are wonderful. Since the London Bridge is now in AZ, hopefully we can all figure out that this one is the Tower Bridge. But I used to always think it was the London Bridge.

  6. Hope your foot is better now. There is a tiny museum tucked into a corner of Buckingham Palace that often displays the Queen's personal collections. I saw the Faberge collection, marvellous.

    1. Not sure if we will make it to that area on this trip. We will have to remember that for the next time.

  7. Did you guys ever win that Oz contest?

    1. They haven't announced the winner yet. Hopefully we will hear the results this week. As soon as we know we will let everyone know one way or the other.

  8. butterbean carpenterJune 18, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Howdy R&K,

    LOVED IT!!! ABSOLUTELY MAHVELOUS!!! 311 Steps?? Did you count them or read that?? Don't go getting 'sore-footed' on us, now Kevin!!
    Just keep on showing pics of Ruth!!! Need to see your handsome face,
    more also!! Please, don't over-do it and rest the tootsies some; ride
    the canal boats or the double-deckers a day or two!! We'd like that!!

    1. No we did't count the steps. You receive a certificate after you come down from the monument that congratulates you on climbing the 311 steps. Kevin's foot is fine, it hasn't stopped or slowed down his walking so he is doing just fine.

  9. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us, the pictures are great!

  10. Busy day for sure. Those are fabulous pictures of Tower Bridge. But isn't the "real" London Bridge in Arizona these days. Ridiculous IMO. The fire monument spiral staircase looks like the inside of shells I find on the beach. A beautiful design. Really great photographs all. So sharp and clear. I thought London was a foggy rainy town. Oh guys are there. Weather will be perfect!

    1. Yes, the original London Bridge is in Arizona now. When they bought it they thought that Tower Bridge was London Bridge. Guess they were surprised when it showed up. The weather hasn't been perfect but it has been good. We have manged to miss any of the rain showers while we've been out. Could still warm up a few degrees though.

  11. My feet hurt just thinking of all the steps you are taking and TKS for sharing your journey with us - we do so appreciate it - photos are fabulous- love the Tower Bridge!

  12. Any chance you're close to the River Mersey, remember the song by Jerry and the Pacemakers?, or Tiger Bay, remember the late 50s movie and the hit song by Shirley Bassey, The Girl From Tiger Bay?

    Have fun!

    1. Don't think we will be anywhere near River Mersey on this trip but you never know.

  13. Great pictures! I have spent a lot of time in London over the years and these shots bring back great memories:)


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