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When the new glass floors opened in Tower Bridge’s famous twin walkways in November and December 2014 we knew we had to create an event which gave everyone the chance to really experience the iconic bridge anew and with an added special twist. Our Thames Sailing Barges have been opening Tower Bridge with passengers onboard for more than 25 years, giving them a very special experience – that feeling of having this famous landmark salute them as it raises it’s bascules to let our tall masts (and beaming guests) through.
So we’ve been behind this special and little known regular happening at Tower Bridge for a long time, and know what a great thing it is to bring this famous corner of London to a standstill as you serenely cruise the Thames. Indeed, as well as traffic, it seems time stands still when you go through. Our current Thames Sailing Barge, ‘Will’, was built in 1925, just 31 years after Tower Bridge first opened in 1894 and especially when you glance to one side and see the historic Tower of London up close, it’s easy to imagine yourself doing just this exact same thing 100 years ago.
Tower Bridge’s New Glass Walkways…
The glass walkways in Tower Bridge are 11 metres long each, one in each of the West and East walkways, the horizontal structures that bridge the two towers at the top of the famous landmark. They are the most major additions to the Tower Bridge Exhibition since it opened in 1982 and allow visitors to enjoy Tower Bridge from a new and exciting aspect. Most visitors will see the traffic on the road below crossing the bridge when they visit unless they plan their visit to coincide with a scheduled bridge lift for an appropriate vessel booked to come through.
Of course this is the special bit, the highlight, the pièce de résistance!! You can see Tower Bridge’s own video of this happening on our main Tower Bridge Cruise page here. It’s a weird but exhilarating feeling to seemingly float in the air, seeing the grey-green Thames rushing past directly underneath, then to see a boat or ship – very often our own SB Will – come through, it’s main mast reaching up towards you.
The Topsail Cruise and Tower Bridge Tour combo
In combining our cruise with the glass walkways experience we have unlocked what we believe is one of the very best experiences you can have in London, whether you are a tourist or a local. For the ticket price of just £49 pp, we arrange everything so that on your inclusive tour of the Tower Bridge Exhibition and the glass walkways you can get to see the very boat that you will later have a Thames Cruise on, pass below you as the bridge opens. Later on you’ll be on board that same boat as it cruises through when you;ll be able to look up at the magnificence of Tower Bridge from your privileged position and see the glass walkways with other people looking down on you! Here’s exactly what is included when you book this great experience with us:
– A ticket to the official self guided Tower Bridge Exhibition Tour.
– A schedule timed to coincide with your visit for when your boat, Sailing Barge Will, will be passing through Tower Bridge.
– A 2-hour cruise on SB Will
– A bridge lift whilst on your cruise
– A delicious cream tea
Schedule for our inaugural Tower Bridge cruise on Sunday 15th March (Mothering Sunday) NB: THIS SCHEDULE IS APPROXIMATE AND WILL BE CONFIRMED SHORTLY. PLEASE CONTACT US WITH ANY QUERIES.
14.00 – Start your Tower Bridge Exhibition tour at North Tower of Bridge
14.30 (TBC) – See SB Will cruise through Tower Bridge through the walkways’ glass floors
c.15.30 – Finish your Tower Bridge Exhibition tour
16.00 – Join SB Will at Tower Pier or St Katharine’s Pier (TBC)
16.00 – 18.00 Enjoy a 2 hour Thames Cruise on SB Will, including a cream tea and at least one Tower Bridge lift.
18.00 – Finish your cruise and experience at Tower Millennium Pier outside the Tower of London and next to Tower Bridge.
Your vessel – Sailing Barge Will
Sailing Barge Will is a historic ship, listed on the UK National Historic Ships register. Through the 19th and earlier 20th Century Thames Sailing Barges were common to the Thames as commercial sailing boats, bringing produce in and out of London. Their flat bottoms allowed them to sit on Thames and other estuary flats at low tide. Despite their size, they could be sailed by “a man, a boy, and a dog”. They were vital transport for London’s economy for many years. SB Will has an illustrious history, amongst her trials, tribulations and triumphs she has been beached on Eastbourne, attacked twice by the Luftwaffe in WWII, and served as the boardroom for the directors of P&O. She also has her own Wikipedia page.
These days Will cruises on the Thames most of the time with us, keeping Tower Bridge busy and delighting her guests with her wide open decks, immense historic charm, and large wood panelled interior lounge-dining room with real log burning stove and original fittings.
We hope we can welcome you on board one day soon to SB Will and our Tower Bridge experience.
By Guy Wimpory (email@example.com)