Britain's Greatest Bridges

Building Tower Bridge

Series 1 - Episode 2 Building Tower Bridge



More spantastic history, with an eyebrow-raising account of how Tower Bridge was built. In one splendid scene presenter Rob Bell looks at various rival plans that were submitted as solutions to crossing the Thames in east London.

The challenge was to build a crossing that could carry vehicles without closing what was the world’s busiest port, and one of the might-have-beens Bell shows us involved a nifty hexagonal section in the middle, with parts of the roadway lifting on either side of ships while traffic continued to flow. If Lamborghini had built bridges in Victorian London, that’s what they’d be like.


For years, London's East End was denied a new bridge because of the need to guarantee passage of ships up and down the Thames. For years, the greatest engineers of the age hunted for a design that would keep both road and water traffic moving. As Rob Bell explains, the solution came from architect Horace Jones, whose revolutionary design, with its thousand-tonne opening sections, was powered by nothing more than water. Rob also explains the bridge was lucky to survive the Second World War, having been a target for German V-1 flying bombs.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Rob Bell
Director Phil Stein
Executive Producer Andra Heritage
Producer Phil Stein
Series Producer Ed Booth