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Glass floor at Tower Bridge walkways will create "wow factor"

Plans to insert glass panels into the upper walkways of Tower Bridge to enable visitors to watch bridge lifts in progress are expected to be endorsed by a City of London Corporation committee next week.

Tower Bridge walkways
Visitors to Tower Bridge can't currently see the bascules from within the high-level walkways

The walkways are 140 feet above the river and form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition visitor attraction.

The culture, heritage and libraries committee of the City of London Corporation, which owns the bridge, will next week consider a proposal to spend around 1 million inserting glass panels into the upper walkways.

The proposal would require planning and listed building consent from both Southwark Council and the borough of Tower Hamlets. If permission is granted, the glass floor could be in place for summer 2014.

A report prepared for committee members explains that some visitors to the Tower Bridge Exhibition are surprised to find that they are unable to view a bridge lift from within the structure of the river crossing.

"As a result they have expressed their disappointment with this unfortunate situation when reality does not satisfy their expectation," says the report, which also notes that a glass floor would create a "wow factor" for paying visitors.

Each year around 520,000 people visit the walkways at the top of the bridge and the City corporation expects visitor numbers to rise by 5 to 10 per cent if the glass panels are installed. Admission charges will be raised by 1 to help meet the cost of the project.

Together with an increase in the number of corporate events, the corporation hopes to recoup the cost of the glass panels within two years.

The glass panels will be positioned to allow visitors with vertigo to walk to one side of the clear sections.

Alternative proposals to build a modern glass link bridge mid-way between the two walkways had been criticised by English Heritage and were unlikely to gain consent.

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