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London 07
September 30, 2008
Pete's Pics > London 07
Tour of Towers
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Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, better known as the Tower of London lies on the north bank of the Thames at the east end of the "City". Set within two concentric rings of fortifications and surrounded by a moat it is the ultimate multi-use facility having served as Royal Palace, torture chamber, execution site, armory, zoo, treasury, money mint, public records office, astronomic observatory and since 1303, the repository for the Crown Jewels


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This entrance enabled the bad guys to be delivered by boat thus avoiding the dangers of the street. A psychological bonus was that such miscreants passed under London Bridge where the heads of their predecessors were ofttimes to be seen mounted on pikes - a sobering sight one would imagine


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Having ridden the boat from Westminster to Greenwich, lunched in a truly unwholesome diner and then taken the boat back up river to the Tower, all in pouring rain and a brutal wind, the plan was to walk home from here. So bye bye to the trusty City Cruise


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Tower Bridge is a combination suspension bridge - the pieces at each side - and bascule bridge - the bits in the middle that flap up and down. Opened in 1895 to relieve congestion, the bridge is just half a mile down river from London Bridge. That half mile however contained considerable Port of London activity necessitating an opening bridge of some kind to allow access by large vessels


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The bridge was just closing as the boat came back toward it. Closed the bridge has 28 feet clearance, open it can pass ships up to 139 feet high. The total length of the bridge is 800 feet with the longest span being 200 feet


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The bridge is named for its location right by the Tower of London and not for its own tower based design. Each 35,000 ton tower has a concrete base and steel superstructure and the whole is covered with Cornish granite and Portland stone to provide protection and a stately appearance


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The elevated walkways between the towers are key elements of the design in tying the towers together


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Crossing the bridge is quite a regal experience


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Another view of the old and the new - the 12th century Middle Tower of the fortress complex at the lower right contrasted with the "Gherkin" and other modern building in the city


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Middle Gate stands outside of the (now dry) moat. Across the moat at the right is the next checkpoint, the Byward Tower


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Detail of Middle Tower


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The outer wall of the main structure


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Punters being parted from pennies


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At the east end, the Tower of London more or less merges into Tower Bridge


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The eastern side of the outer wall. The fortress/palace is actually like a small city


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The Tower from the north


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Looking back from the east side of the city the Tower and Tower Bridge harmonize well
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