London's Tower Bridge reopens to traffic after being stuck

Published August 10, 2021, 2:22 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

LONDON, United Kingdom — London’s Tower Bridge reopened Tuesday to traffic, after a “technical failure” left the 19th-century landmark’s arms pointing skyward for almost twelve hours.

Cyclists wait to cross Tower Bridge as it is stuck in an open position due to a technical fault, in central London on August 9, 2021. London’s iconic Tower Bridge remained closed to traffic on August 9 after suffering a technical fault, resulting in it being unable to close. Tolga Akmen / AFP

The two sections of the bridge had been stuck since mid-afternoon on Monday, when they had been due to open for a tall wooden ship, the Sailing Vessel Tenacious, according to the bridge’s schedule.

It is the second time in a year that the bridge, one of the most recognisable features of London’s skyline, has become stuck.

The bridge reopened to traffic at 01:45 BST (0045 GMT) on Tuesday, according to the BBC.

The bridge connects the Square Mile financial district to Southwark across the River Thames, and its closure caused long queues to build up on either side of the crossing.

Built between 1886 and 1894, the landmark was at the time considered “the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever completed”, according to its website.

The bascules — the word for the bridge’s arms, derived from the French word for “seesaw” — move up and down via four large cogs on each side. The cogs were initially powered by steam before an electro-hydraulic system was installed in the 1970s.

The bridge normally lifts around 800 times a year.

In August 2020, it remained stuck for over an hour, causing traffic to become deadlocked in the surrounding areas.