The Tower of London unveils new working drawbridge
Britain’s premier fortress, The Tower of London, today (Wednesday 2 April 2014) brought the past to life reinstating for the first time since the 1970s a working drawbridge.
Years in the planning and five months of construction finally saw the official unveiling and rising of the drawbridge, a sight not seen at the Tower in over a generation.
Originally created in 1834, to allow munitions to be brought into the basement of the iconic White Tower from the wharf, the drawbridge would have spanned a water filled moat, but this was deemed noxious and drained in 1843 on the orders of the then Constable of the Tower of London, the Duke of Wellington.
The bridge has undergone various adaptions over the years, including the last time it was completely replaced in 1915. Yet the tradition of raising the bridge carried on into the 1970s, reflecting the residual role of the castle as a defended fortress with a resident garrison. However in 1978 the rising drawbridge element was found to be ‘troublesome’ so was removed and the bridge was permanently fixed in place, stripping it of its most important historical feature – the ability to lift.
Alex Attelsey, Conservation Building Surveyor for Historic Royal Palaces, said:
'The Tower of London is the most famous fortress in the world so it’s very exciting to once again see a drawbridge in operation, heralding back to the days of yore and evoking the Tower’s identity as an impregnable fortress. We worked with specialist crafts people to help recreate the bridge, it’s quite an unusual project after all and it isn’t every day you get to rebuild a medieval style drawbridge!'
Curators and surveyors from Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower, have overseen the project working with architects to create a new bridge that draws on historical designs from 1914. Also borrowing from the Victorian’s neo-gothic fascination with recreating medieval structures, the bridge has been constructed using steel and English Oak cladding using traditional carpentry methods.
The drawbridge will be raised and lowered on high days and holidays and used for educational and learning opportunities.
Notes to Editors
For further information, factsheets, images and interviews please contact Cat Steventon: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3166 6302
Historic images and plans of the drawbridge dating from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century are available on request.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk