The AMD London Spring Social Event started with a self-guided tour of Tower Bridge. Over 30 members of the District and their partners - including 4-month old Schofield Minor! - spent a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes learning about the history of this iconic bridge.
Built between 1886 and 1894, the bridge is now used by a staggering 40,000 pedestrians a year. Initially, the high-level open air walkways between the towers gained a reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets; but as they were only accessible by stairs they were seldom used by regular pedestrians, and were closed in 1910. The walkways reopened in 1982, and as part of our tour we were able to stand on the glass panels and gaze down at the people and traffic below us.
After enjoying the views up and down the river from the walkways, we then headed downstairs to see the original steam engines which powered the bascules.
The cost of building the bridge went well over budget but, interestingly, tax-payers were not required to foot the overspend. This was because of a mysterious organisation called the Bridge House Estates , founded in 1282, which stepped in to foot the bill. The mark of the Bridge House Estates, dating back to the days of the stonemasons, can be found all over Tower Bridge.
After the tour, we headed to Browns - a few minutes' walk along the Thames - where we were joined by another 10 or so AMD members and partners for an excellent meal in a private dining room. The volume of conversation and laughter reflected how much everyone enjoyed themselves, a point noted by the District Grand Prefect when he closed the evening with thanks to the organising team.