• New exhibition explores Tower Bridge’s historic connection to Bridge House Estates, the ancient institution that finances Tower Bridge and four other central London bridges
• Discover the vital connection between Bridge House Estates, Tower Bridge and the City of London, stretching from medieval times to the present day
• For the observant visitor, the Bridge House Estates sign – the Bridge Mark – can still be seen on many buildings across the City and beyond
• The exhibition will run from 24 January 2018 until the autumn, further establishing the new temporary exhibition space in Tower Bridge’s Victorian Engine Rooms
• Visitors to the exhibition will discover where the distinctive sign can be found around the world through interactive displays and can use a take-away map to search for their own Bridge Marks and share their discoveries and experiences using #bridgemark
Take an exclusive look at the history behind Bridge House Estates this January at Tower Bridge Exhibition. The temporary exhibition will explore the role of one of London’s largest independent charities - from its foundation by Royal Charter in 1282 to the crucial modern-day role that the institution plays in maintaining, repairing, and financing London’s five vital river crossings.
Originally founded to build and maintain London Bridge, Bridge House Estates oversaw the construction of Tower Bridge over a century ago, and now looks after Blackfriars, Southwark Bridge and, more recently, The Millennium Bridge. This exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the organisation’s activities beyond the bridges. Visitors will find out what lies behind a much-loved and well-known national icon to discover Bridge House Estates’ history, its role, its people and its distinctive insignia, the Bridge Mark.
The Bridge Mark can still be discovered on buildings right across the City – from the flags which sit on top of the iconic towers of Tower Bridge to as far afield as America, where old London Bridge - together with the ancient emblem - was sold and transported brick-by-brick to sit across Lake Havasu in Arizona.
It first appears scribbled in the margins of the maps that would go on to shape the London streets that we are familiar with today. While the origins remain unclear, one theory for the distinctive shape maintains that the lines follow the masons or carpenters’ marks that would have indicated the material used to repair London Bridge.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to discover where the distinctive sign can be found across the globe through the interactive displays and can use a take-away map to search for their own Bridge Marks and share their discoveries and experiences using #bridgemark
Learn also how the organisation generated income from bridge tolls, taxes levied on goods transported in and out of the City over London Bridge along with rents from the numerous houses and businesses located that once lined the length of the crowded river crossing. While Bridge House Estates maintains its original function as an established City of London entity, it now operates a charitable arm called City Bridge Trust. Entrusted with managing the surplus funds accumulated by the institution since its foundation, this philanthropic division supports a vast range of Greater London charitable causes, environmental initiatives and social investment. As part of Bridge House Estates, any profit generated by Tower Bridge is invested directly into the capital in the form of charitable grant making funds so by enjoying this exhibition visitors will be helping to support worthy causes across London.
On display in the temporary exhibition space of the atmospheric Engine Rooms, (from where the mighty bridge lifts were once powered), the exhibition offers visitors the perfect opportunity to explore a slice of London history at the heart of one of the world’s most famous river crossings and is a great addition to the new Engine Rooms interpretation, unveiled in 2017, which explores the social history of the Bridge.
The exhibition runs from 24 January 2018 and admission is included in the entry for Tower Bridge Exhibition.