Oops, broken! Famous Tower Bridge landmark seizes up

One of the downsides of being a global icon and an enduring symbol of your city and country is that when things go wrong everyone is watching.

So it was on Saturday for the famous old Tower Bridge in London, a venerable and elegant landmark that has worked mostly uncomplainingly for the past 126 years to keep the city’s traffic flowing and its river shipping moving.

Traffic gridlock and chaos ensued

Until yesterday afternoon that is, when the old girl’s arthritic and well-worn knees seized up and left her looking a little ungainly and no doubt somewhat embarrassed.

But, in keeping with the truism that nobody misses you until you’re not there, she may have taken some small comfort from the traffic gridlock and all-round chaos that ensued when she wasn’t there to play her part.

The problem, you see, is that the raised halves of the open-and-shut roadway somehow managed to get stuck part-way closed, meaning vehicles and pedestrians couldn’t cross the Thames River via this critical thoroughfare.

Drama continued overnight into Sunday

Soon locals were sharing photos of the almost unheard-of event on social media, visitors stranded on the pedestrian walkway were Facebooking their involvement in a “once in a lifetime moment”, and the police were issuing appeals to anyone who was listening to please use an alternative route.

Unfortunately a short while after this tweet, the bridge ceased operating again.

The drama continued into the night and through into Sunday as technicians struggled to get what is known as a ‘bascule bridge’ back into full working order. ‘Bascule’ is derived from the French word for ‘seesaw’.

At the time of writing, the bridge was still closed to most forms of traffic.

Have your rebooted it, asks social media

Of course, the social media wags couldn’t resist getting involved. “Did you try turning it on and off at the wall plug?” suggested one. “Have you rebooted it?” asked another?

A few people suggested the only option would be to enact the famous bridge jump sequence from the 2 Fast 2 Furious movie, in which speeding cars jump over a bascule bridge.

The last time Tower Bridge stopped operating due to a technical fault was in 2005, when it closed for 10 hours.

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Presh JM Reporter

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