On 30th December 1952, Albert Gunter was happily going about his day job, driving the number 78 bus over Tower Bridge towards Shoreditch. To his utter surprise, the road in front of him seemed to drop away.
Gunter quickly realised that the Bridge was opening, and his bus was on a rising bascule. Back in the 1950s, a watchman was supposed to ring a warning bell and close the gates before Tower Bridge opened, but on that particular day, he somehow forgot to do so.
Slamming his foot down on the accelerator, Gunter managed to jump the rising bascule. He successfully reached the north side of Tower Bridge, which had not yet begun to open, getting all his 20 passengers across safely.
As a precaution, all those of on board were taken to hospital. Thankfully, there was only one person injured: Gunter broke his leg. Amazingly enough, the bus, which was going at just 12 mph (19.3 km/h), was intact.
For this act of bravery and quick thinking, Albert was awarded a day off work and a reward of £10 (about £290 in today’s money).
Other feats that happened in or around Tower Bridge
Over its 125 years, Tower Bridge has been the location of a number of daring feats.
We already mentioned Albert Gunter’s accomplishment of jumping over a rising bascule with the number 78 bus, but there are two other impressive events that took place in or around the part of Pool of London where Tower Bridge is located.
Flying through Tower Bridge
In 1951, Frank Miller flew a plane through Tower Bridge. Although he was not the first to do this, his excuse was the most surprising.
Miller blamed it on his 13-year-old son, saying that he had dared him to do it for 35 shillings. Unfortunately for Frank, this did not cover the £100 fine he got in court afterwards.
Flying the 'Queen' through Tower Bridge
In more recent memory, two helicopters flew through Tower Bridge carrying a stunt double of the Queen for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London from 27 to 12 August that year.
This was part of a scene involving James Bond. 007 was visiting Buckingham Palace to collect the Queen. The sequence ended with the ‘Queen’ parachuting out of the helicopter into the London Olympic Stadium, in Stratford.