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Haynes marks 125 years of London’s Tower Bridge with new Operations Manual

24th April 2019
John M. Smith BSc (Hons) MSc FIET FBCS CITP CEng
Thursday, 18 April, 2019


24th April 2019: Visited by some 830,000 sightseers every year, Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognisable landmarks and an icon of England’s capital city. To celebrate its 125th anniversary this June, Haynes reveals the innermost workings of this amazing structure with the new Tower Bridge Operations Manual. 

Officially opened in 1894 by His Majesty the Prince of Wales, Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge spanning the  Thames just east of the Tower of London. Widely revered as an engineering marvel of the Victorian age, Tower Bridge was built to relieve pressure on London Bridge, while allowing ships to enter and leave the inner Pool of London on demand.

The Tower Bridge Operations Manual includes a detailed history of how the bridge came to be, showing many of the unsuccessful designs presented to the City of London Corporation  by hopeful bridge designers.  This account details how the bridge was designed by engineer John Wolfe Barry and his small team (with drawing boards and slide-rules), how construction was broken down into separate contracts and how the overall project was managed.  This was “state of the art” engineering, designed and delivered by many larger-than-life characters, several of whom were veritable Titans of 19th century engineering.  Also included is a close-up look at the operation, control and maintenance of the bridge from 1894 to the present time. The challenge offered by the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which will pass beneath the bridge, is also outlined.

The book features a wealth of both new and original drawings and historic and contemporary photographs, taking readers behind the scenes to understand the workings of this major London landmark. 

The author is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.  Introducing the book, John M. Smith says: “Tower Bridge was one of the first steel bridges in the world. It employed cutting-edge steam and hydraulic technology. People may not appreciate that it is actually ten bridges in one – two masonry arch bridges forming the approaches, two suspension bridges linking the abutments with the river piers, two simply supported steel bridges carrying the roadway over the bascule chambers, two bascule bridges and two cantilevered foot bridges.  There are actually now twelve bridges on the site!”

“I first visited the bridge 30 years ago.  It was then that I realised that it is actually a steel bridge, clad with a thin layer of masonry. I marvelled at the enormous fabricated steel beams, each with row upon row of beautifully-executed rivets. The magnificient steam pumping engines also impressed. I vowed that one day I would write a book about the bridge and I’m delighted that this publication coincides with its 125th anniversary. My aim with this book is to lay bare the design and operation of the bridge and show ‘how it works’.”  

Written with an engaging and informative style, the Tower Bridge Operations Manual contains both a detailed and fascinating history of how the bridge came to be, and a very thorough analysis of the structure of the bridge from an engineer’s perspective. 


Title details

Tower Bridge Operations Manual is priced at £25.00 and available from The book number is H6649. The ISBN is 9781785216497. It is published in May 2019.


About the author

John M. Smith BSc (Hons) MSc FIET FBCS CITP CEng is a Chartered Engineer and author. He has published widely in the engineering press and lives in Berkshire. 

The author is available for interview - contact:


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