The UK’s largest processor, distributor, installer and repairer of glass and glass systems Glassolutions won the £250,000 contract to design and manufacture the (one-way) glass, which has been inserted into the floor of each of the two 11.5 metre long walkways on the Grade I listed building.The existing floors were removed and a steel frame was installed into which the new 69mm thick glass floors, comprising three layers of glass capable of withstanding the weight of six elephants, were inserted.Key considerations for the specification of the glass included wind loading, the potential impact should a passing vessel strike the walkways, the durability and strength of the glass as Tower Bridge attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year, and privacy from viewers on the ground.Simon Carin, managing director of Glassolutions, which is part of the international Saint-Gobain group said: “The glass walkways are designed to enhance this already stunning visitor attraction and have certainly created a new talking point.This project is similar to the glass floor installations Saint-Gobain has been involved with at the Eiffel Tower and the Spinnaker Tower view decks in Portsmouth. It’s a privilege to be part of such a landmark project and we’re delighted that our expertise has made it possible.”
The walkways are also available for weddings, private and corporate functions. A solution to the potential problem of scratches and wear and tear on the glass is the installation of a “sacrificial” layer of glass, which can be replaced independently of the structural floor.
The glass walkways feature external LED lighting to outline the glazed area and enhance its privacy from passers-by on the ground.
Tower Bridge is owned by the Bridge House Estate and managed by the City of London. It took eight years, five major contractors and the relentless labour of 432 construction workers to build Tower Bridge, which was completed in 1892. It was opened on 30 June 1894 by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).
Tower Bridge Exhibition tells the history of the bridge through animations and displays, across its towers, high-level panoramic walkways and the atmospheric Victorian Engine Rooms. The installation of the glass walkways is the most significant change to the Exhibition since it first opened in 1982.