Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Horace story


The addition of walkways on Tower Bridge (NCE 9/16 August), was not an operational flaw as stated but stemmed from an adaptation of Horace Jones' 1878 design by John Wolfe Barry.

The width between the main towers was reduced from 92m to 61.2m, with the central arch being replaced by horizontal girders, thus reducing the risk of tall ships striking the bridge if they were not in the centre of the channel. It was a relatively simple task to provide for pedestrians within the horizontal girders, albeit with additional lifts and stairs.

You also state that the mock Gothic architecture and Portland Stone cladding was 'insisted upon by the authorities'. However, there were no town planners, heritage societies or conservationists in Victorian England.

In fact, the design selected by the Corporation of London in 1884, was still significantly different from the bridge as built. Jones' design envisaged significant architectural detailing finished in red bricks, but he died suddenly in May 1887, 13 months into construction.

His assistant, George Stevenson, reputedly insisted on major changes in the architectural appearance of the bridge before accepting the commission. The choice of stone facing and simpler detailing is what we see today.

Roy Aylott OBE (F) St Albans, Hertfordshire

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.