At Baizdon we are working on an interesting new product for the Tower Bridge Exhibition and, as part of the research for this, we get to go to a secret room in the South Tower - so secret many staff haven't been there! To reach it you have to climb a winding staircase and then bend-yourself-in-half and squeeze through a tiny doorway. You find yourself a small windowless room full of plan chests which, in turn, are all full of original drawings* of Tower Bridge at various stages of its construction. While our technical illustrator is soon in raptures about steel girder placement, bolt angles and accumulator cross-sections, I am transfixed by names and dates. 'Bridge Master Received 1959' is stamped on one, '16-11-36, Clarke, Chapman and Barry of Gateshead on Tyne' on another. I enjoy finding several documents with 'R.B. Hilton of Blackheath, SE3, 1921' (and immediately wonder if the practice still exists and whether it's near my house) but most of all I am delighted when I find 'The Office of Sir John Wolfe Barry & Partners, 1937'. The drawings are old and crumbling but the bridge they represent is standing strong and has gone on to become the Most Famous Bridge In The World. Sir John Wolfe Barry would be very proud.
*The original drawings all belong to the City of London and the majority have been taken to the London Metropolitan Archives where you can arrange to view them.