Tower Bridge skyline (1910)

Tower Bridge skyline (1910)Alamy by Premier Inn

Happy Birthday Tower Bridge! After 125 years, we take a look at some of the defining moments in the history of Tower Bridge

This iconic structure has survived two world wars, berthed some of the largest ships in the world and still to this day raises its bridges an average of 800 times per year with over 40,000 people crossing it daily. Steeped in history, Premier Inn has delved into each decade of the much-loved attraction to celebrate its big birthday, with a set of photographs that chronicle the history of this famous landmark.

Read more: Famous British film locations

Opening celebration 

Opening ceremony of Tower Bridge. Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

Opening ceremony of Tower Bridge. Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

The opening ceremony for Tower Bridge was held in 1894, eight years after construction began. It took 432 workers to build the bridge, in excess of 70,000 tons of concrete sunk to the bed of the River Thames to support the structure and over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the towers and walkways. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a drawbridge; Tower Bridge’s roads are too heavy for ropes or chains to pull up, so it was designed as a bascule bridge which means the roads act like two giant seesaws.

The great smog 

A smoggy Tower Bridge (1925). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

A smoggy Tower Bridge (1925). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

Back in the 20s, Londoners couldn’t even see their feet some days thanks to the fog. Whereas today fog can halt daily life, back then it had to be business as usual so shops still opened and workers still walked to their offices through a choking atmosphere. The Clean Air Act in 1956 put an end to the problem!

Throughout the war

German airship Graf Zeppelin flies over Tower Bridge (1931). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

German airship Graf Zeppelin flies over Tower Bridge (1931). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

An intriguing sight for us now, but this Graf Zeppelin was not an unusual occurrence for Londoners on the ground in the 30s. The German-built hydrogen filled airship travelled over 1 million miles in its lifespan, and was deployed predominantly for reconnaissance missions.

Read more: Take a look inside the rennovated Buckingham Palace

Taxi under the bridge

RAF Sunderland flying boat moored next to Tower Bridge (1950). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

RAF Sunderland flying boat moored next to Tower Bridge (1950). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

The Short Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber, used by the RAF. This seaplane used to taxi under Tower Bridge and did so up until the 80s, until it was taken out of action and displayed in Florida at Fantasy of Flight.

The Queen's Silver Jubilee

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee (1977). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee (1977). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee marked her 25 years on the throne. More than a million people lined the streets of London to celebrate and watch the Royal family on their route to St Paul’s, as well as filling the River Thames with boats. Tower Bridge was famously painted blue, white and red to mark the occasion, transforming it from its original brown colour.

First London marathon

First London Marathon (1981). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

First London Marathon (1981). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

It was in 1978 that the idea for the first London Marathon was dreamed up. Chris Brasher and John Disley were in The Dysart Arms pub near Richmond Park when they were discussing the success of the New York City Marathon. After checking it out for themselves in 1979, they then launched the first London Marathon on 29 March, 1981.

London Olympics

Olympic Rings (2012). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

Olympic Rings (2012). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

A month prior to the 2012 Olympic Games, giant Olympic rings were suspended from Tower Bridge. The rings measured 25 metres wide and 11.5 metres tall, weighing three tonnes and costing £259,817 to craft.

The Tower remembers 

The Tower remembers the end of WW1 (2018). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

The Tower remembers the end of WW1 (2018). Image: Alamy by Premier Inn

Another commemorative scene, the moat surrounding the Tower of London was filled with individual flames, representing the lives of fallen armed service members. ‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers’ marked 100 years since the end of the First World War.