LAUNCHING A LANDMARKTHE UNSEEN OPENING WEEKS

Photographs unseen for over a century. History brought to life. Welcome to Tower Bridge’s 130th anniversary celebrations.

The unexpected discovery of forgotten black and white photographs quickly turned out to be a snapshot of a unique event in London history. The last weeks in the completion of one of its best-known landmarks: Tower Bridge. Discover the story…

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Take a rare glimpse into the past, as the London landmark of Tower Bridge was being completed. And for the first time, see the crowds of Londoners visiting on 9 July 1894 when the Bridge opened to the public.

Peer through the lens of time and see the Bridge come alive through the eyes of the workers who built it and the first Londoners to walk across it.

From Discovery to Display

In the depths of his family’s attic, Patrick Cruttwell Molineux stumbles upon hidden treasures, long forgotten by time.

Among the dust of two archive boxes of family papers, he uncovered some rare documents: candid photographs of Tower Bridge’s construction, intimate letters exchanged between architectural giants, and more.

Each discovery reveals a forgotten chapter of history meticulously preserved by his great-grandfather, Edward Cruttwell.

Documenting Tower Bridge

The project of bringing colour to historic photographs is a meticulous and fascinating process, blending advanced technology with artistic sensitivity.

Discover more about the process of how the team brought out the historical detail in these photographs, making these images vibrant and accessible for contemporary audiences.

Timeline to Opening

As the population of Victorian London expanded, so did the need for better transportation. The city was crying out for a new bridge to help ease the traffic over the Thames.  

Take a journey with us through time, to the Victorian era, and discover the race to build a new river crossing for the people of London.  

The People of Tower Bridge

From architects to riveters, engineers to divers, there are so many different people with varied careers who contributed to the building of Tower Bridge.

Discover more about the people who helped launch the landmark.   

About Edward Cruttwell

As the first Superintending Engineer of Tower Bridge, Edward Cruttwell oversaw the building of the new Bridge.

In the last few weeks before its opening, he commissioned a photographer to document the final works. These pictures were only recently rediscovered by his family.

Capturing the moment

What a difference 130 years makes.

Taken over a century apart, on 9 July 1894 and 2024, the photos below capture the changing view of London from Tower Bridge.

Celebrating both our rich history and the communities that make up our great city today, this recreation represents the 140,000 people that came in 1894 to welcome their newest landmark, and the thousands of people who use and visit Tower Bridge today.

A group of people standing on Tower Bridge

Featuring pupils from Tower Bridge Primary School and members of The Princes Trust, Black Prince Trust, Latin America Disabled People’s Project, City of London Police Project Servator Team, The Bike Project, Hackney Shed, City of London Board Members, London Metropolitan Archive, Patrick Molineux, Social Pantry, Tower Bridge staff and contractors and the team at City Bridge Foundation.

Send us your stories

Join us in celebrating the rich history of Tower Bridge by sending us your stories to share. And why not visit the Bridge and see the photographs for yourself in the place where they were taken, at our free exhibition.

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Visit the FREE exhibition

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