On Tower Bridge pedestrians wait as the Mediadrumimages / TopFoto

By Mark McConville

STUNNING RETRO pictures have offered a glimpse into the inner workings of London’s famous Tower Bridge in the 1950s.

Controlling the flow of traffic, the Tower Bridge operator switches on the traffic lights before the bascules are lifted. 1951. Mediadrumimages / TopFoto

The incredible images show a Tower Bridge driver working the controls during the raising of the road, an operator switching on the traffic lights to stop traffic going over the bridge and a boiler man stoking the firebox with coal as boilers heat the steam that powers the machinery to lift the bascules.

Other striking shots show a Tower Bridge manager inspecting the pumps used for the lifting mechanisms, a worker ringing the bell to warn users that the bridge lifting will be imminent and a manager watching as a cargo ship passes underneath the bridge.

A Thames lighterman on his boat at Tower Bridge in London. 1951. Mediadrumimages / TopFoto

The remarkable photographs were taken on Tower Bridge in 1951. Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous bridges and a great London landmark. It crosses the River Thames close to the great fortress of the Tower of London. Built between 1886 and 1894 it is the gateway into the port of London and the river’s upper pool.

The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers.

Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous bridges and a great London landmark. It crosses the River Thames close to the great fortress of the Tower of London. Built between 1886 and 1894 it is the gateway into the port of London and the river’s upper pool. Tower Bridge with the bascules raised as a ship passes underneath the footway. 1951. Mediadrumimages / TopFoto

The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower.

Before its restoration in the 2010s, the bridge’s colour scheme dated from 1977, when it was painted red, white and blue for Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. Its colours were subsequently restored to blue and white

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