Tower Bridge is going in for a spot of piracy this half term â€“ with a Treasure Chest of family gifts and goodies as the major prize and further booty for runners-up.
Visitors to its imposing Towers, Engine Rooms and spectacular High-level Walkways will learn about dark deeds and ferocious faces as the Tower Bridge Pirate Treasure Hunt conjurers up the cutlass-wielding days when piracy was rife, right here in the Pool of London.
Forget those Pirates of the Caribbean. Questions leading to the Tower Bridge Treasure Chest lift the lid on local London life in the 16th - 18th centuries, when armed gangs plundered ships and cargoes using the overcrowded wharves, newspapers revelled in stories of sailors captured by pirates in foreign seas and pirates condemned to death at the Old Bailey took their final trip from Southwark's Marshalsea Prison to be hanged in public at Execution Dock, just downstream from the site of the Bridge.
The Treasure Hunt looks at all the tricks of this ruthless trade and introduces some of the most infamous or notable names of their day: the murderous Blackbeard, who twined lighted fuses in his hair to terrify victims; Captain Kidd, hanged at Wapping; Ann Ready, London's own female pirate and explorer Sir Francis Drake - nicknamed The Dragon for his quickâ€“striking, privateer raids.
Treasure Chest booty includes a hands-on invitation for the winning family to lift Tower Bridge for shipping, while everyone who cracks the clues wins some seafaring fun in the form of generous discount vouchers for entry to the nearby Golden Hinde, the faithful replica of Drake's Tudor galleon that has itself circumnavigated the world.
Treasure hunters are also rewarded with a special discount on pirate merchandise purchased at the end of the trail in the Tower Bridge shop. In their turn, visitors to the Golden Hinde enjoy a discount to the Tower Bridge Exhibition, where the Pirate Treasure Hunt is included in all admission prices.