Tower Bridge glass walkways open

For a different view of London, head to Tower Bridge, where high level walkways with glass floors were opened to the public on Monday. The walkways will provide spectacular bird’s eye views of the bridge lifts, which generally occur every day.

The 11-metre by 1.8-metre glass walk-on floors are in each of its east and west walkways. The western walkway was unveiled on Monday, with the eastern walkway, still under construction, set to open on December 1.

The £1 million ($18 million) construction 42 metres above the River Thames in London is the most significant change since the Tower Bridge Experience opened in 1982.

The floor is made of six panels, each weighing 500kg, and supported by a carbon steel framework weighing about 1,000kg.

The Tower Bridge Experience exhibition attracts about 600,000 visitors a year and the new installation, funded by the City of London Corporation, is expected to lead to a further increase in visitor numbers.

Spectacular views aside, the new glass floor across Tower Bridge’s high-level walkways could prove terrifying for anyone who suffers from vertigo.

But it could also cause worry among another group of punters: namely women wearing skirts or dresses.

Would it be possible, one might wonder, for pedestrians down below to look up and see more than they had bargained for? Apparently not. Staff at Tower Bridge moved to assure the public there was no risk of such embarrassment since the glass from which the floor is made is “too thick” to see through from beneath. The view from below is further restricted by the fact that the walkway is not directly above the pavement but slightly off at an angle.

A spokesman said: “This question was discussed, and no it won’t be possible [to see up women’s skirts]. Pedestrians can look up but the walkway is not directly above them, it’s a little bit off-centre.”

However, those behind the project did have to consider the risk, they admitted.

“This was a consideration at the outset of the design process,” the spokesman said. “The layers within the glass, combined with careful control of the lighting system within the walkway between day and night time, address this potential issue.”

There are also plans in the pipeline for additional lighting to be installed underneath the walkway, which will shine light directly on to the exterior panel surface.

This will “further enhance the effectiveness of the above solution, and allow visitors to see through the glass from above while creating a ‘mirror’ effect when looking up from road level,” a Tower Bridge Exhibition statement explained.

Christopher Macgowan

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