You all know Tower Bridge.


The famous one that’s in all the pictures, with the double drawbridge in the middle.

The drawbridge weighs over a thousand tonnes. It is counterbalanced by huge weights, which also weigh over a thousand tonnes.

When the bridges lift, the weights slowly drop into two large chambers called “bascule chambers”. They’re situated in the base of the central supports of the bridge.

When the bridges are down, these chambers are empty.

“That’s a good place for a concert,” thought a chap called Iain Chambers.

“That sounds fun,” thought I.

So last night, the Professor and I headed east, where the lovely Totally Thames festival volunteers (hello Liz!) guided us into the bridge …


… through the machinery rooms …


… down some very steep stairs …


… into the Bascule Chamber.

Let’s take a minute to review safety:

The pale thing in the photo below that looks like a ceiling?

It’s not a ceiling. It’s the counterweight.

So …


Also, we’re now below the water level.


Everyone got that? Okay good, then we can continue.

The concert featured two vocal groups, the Ben See Group and Juice.


The Ben See Quartet

The programme was eclectic, ranging from modern (and composed for this series) pieces by the aforementioned Iain Chambers, through Guns ‘n’ Roses, to sixteenth-century work.

Juice in Tower Bridge's Bascule Chamber

Juice vocal ensemble

The setting was very special. The acoustics were excellent, which added to the atmospheric nature of the evening.


Teaming up for a seven-part piece

There were only about 50 of us in the audience, which added to the intimacy, and all through the concert, we could hear cars rumbling over the bridge and the occasional boat whirring past.

The concert ended with a final piece from the Ben See group, sung in an antechamber:


Which we watched from the metal steps:


It all made for a unique and memorable evening, and quite thrilling to see such a different side of one of London’s most iconic works of architecture.