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Tower Pier

Peter Ackroyd on Tower

'In 1869 the Tower subway was dug beneath the river to connect Tower Hill in the north with Tooley Street in the south. It was lined with cast iron rather than with brick, and was designed for omnibuses travelling beneath the Thames. It was not a success. If the omnibus stopped for some reason in the middle of the tunnel, the sound of paddle steamers overhead could distinctly be heard by the passengers. It was then turned into a tunnel for pedestrians, before being entirely replaced by Tower Bridge. It is now what is know as a 'ghost tunnel' used to house cables and pipelines. From the cast iron tube the constant noise of the water can still be heard. It has a reputation for being one of the loneliest spots in London.'

'The British giant, Bran, having been mortally wounded in a battle with the Irish, ordered that his head be carried down the Thames and placed by the river at Tower Hill as a bulwark against invasions. As the rowers progressed down the river, the severed head uttered prophecies about the island's destiny. The ancient poems claim that King Arthur removed the head, believing that the country needed no other defender than himself. This why London, and England, became the victim of Roman invasion. Bran also means 'raven' in modern Welsh and in ancient Brythonic. So Charles II was merely reviving an ancient tradition when he placed the ravens in the Tower.'

Peter Ackroyd's Readings on Tower

Hear Peter Ackroyd's Readings on Tower

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History of the piers

History at Tower Pier.

Download the exclusive Dark Waters history of the piers pdf here (pdf - 2MB).

Buildings around Tower Pier

  • Number Key for Dark Waters Map Side One
  • 42, 44-47, 54-63
  • (15 buildings)