Part 2: Tower of London and Tower Bridge


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The Trip

After we got our London Passes, we headed to the London Tower to check it out.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Approaching the Tower grounds from the north provided a great view of the moat area which is now grass.

Kathleen and Steve pose for a photo with the Tower ramparts in the background.

Our London Passes got us quickly in the door and onto the cobble streets in the castle.  This is the main walkway.

The Yeoman Warders, also known as "Beefeaters" (like the gin), are all decorated war veterans (note the ribbons on his chest).  This Beefeater is preparing for a tour and softly hitting on one of the tourists.

When a tour bus arrives, there is a tsunami of tourists that charge the entrance.  This section of the castle is undergoing some renovation.

We took a side route that put us in the king's bed chamber.

The chambers had a large fire place.

The White Tower is the original castle which was started in 1066 subsequent to the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror.  A portion of the grounds are under restoration.  Over the centuries this building served as the king's residence, the mint, the armory and a host of other uses.

The changing of the guard brought out a Yeoman Warder and a set of guards.  The guards had modern automatic rifles with fixed bayonets.

The Yeoman is doing crowd control and insisting the people get out of the way of the guards.

The Tower Castle held the king's armament including some very large artillery.

Weapons have been improved over the years from large crossbows to to the breach-loading cannon.

Ravens are closely associated with the Tower Castle.  Legend foretold the fall of the crown if the ravens ever left the castle so the king appointed one of the yeoman as the ravensmaster.  The ravens were fed and cared for over the years.  Note the band on this raven's leg.

The inside of the White Tower was turned into a museum of armament including armor.

These old suits of full armor were heavy and unwieldy.

This artwork is new since the last time we visited the White Tower in 2005.  This dragon is composed of individual arms including pistols, muskets, cannons and helmets.

The armory had many flintlock pistols and muskets.  Note the spears on the left of the photo above.

Many old cannons were on display, most were made out of bronze.

Neither of these two pieces fared well.  The one in the foreground blew apart and the rear cannon sagged and bent.

The display had a full rack of sabres.  Select the sword of your choice.

We elected to go see the crown jewelst, but there was a long line.  While in line, we moved past this modern artillery piece.

The guards were on duty outside the entrance to the jewels.  Note this guard has an automatic rifle with locked bayonet.  These guards are active duty military, so I have to assume that the rifle is locked and loaded.

Back in the day, the king had a set of wild animals at the Tower Castle.  His own private zoo included animals collected from various UK colonies.  The wire statue is a baboon.

The upper wall walk gave us a view of statues on nearby buildings including this beauty.

We left the Tower Castle and headed along the Thames providing a nice view of the HMS Belfast docked on the south shore of the river.

Close to the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge.  Tower Bridge is a draw bridge that allows tall ships to pass.  The upper deck is a sidewalk.

We walked out onto the bridge deck and it was cold and windy.  But, we could see the rivet and plate construction technique.

Rivet and plate can be very sturdy if constructed carefully.  Note the size of the flanges of these beams -- 4 layers thick.

Every old European building should have gargoyles.  The Tower Bridge was no exception.

The junction point for the draw bridge is visible in the center of the span.  The bridge opens several pre-scheduled times per week, usually around 0300 to allow ship traffic to pass.

The first day out and about was tiring.  We walked a lot and there was plenty to see.  We had fun, but since the wind started coming up at sundown, it got cold in a hurry.  So, we hiked to the Tower Hill tube station and got on a train headed for the Temple area and were soon back at the hotel.

Tomorrow: the British Museum and the Museum of Transportation.

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