The People of Tower Bridge

We need your help

Charlotte Olive Dora Burch, Keshavji Shamji Budhbhatti, Friend Samuel Penney: the first female employee at Tower Bridge, the engineer who came from India and helped build the Bridge, the head of the diving team who were paid £10 per minute to descended 10m into the river to excavate its foundations.

We would not know about them without you, the public. With the help of your memories, your stories, letters, photographs we have heard about the people who worked at the Bridge; from its construction to its operation; from 1886 to today.

How can you help?

Full image of the Construction crew working on Tower Bridge

Image: Courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives

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The search continues: this is a photograph taken in 1894, outside one of the Towers, which shows part of the construction team.

We know precious little about the men depicted in it; judging by the hats they wear they are a mixed bunch of workers (flat caps) and foremen (bowler hats). We think, the man in the bowler hat in the foreground bottom left might be David Harris, superintendent for William Arrol’s company, who supplied the steel for the Bridge.

But who are the others, who for example are the two boys sitting in the centre by the wheel, who is the 'old seadog' third on the bench bottom right, who is the black man with the bowler hat at a rakish angle in the centre?

Close up of boys who worked on Tower Bridge

Get in touch

We would love to hear from you if you can identify any of the men here. Or let us know if you have any photographs or names, or stories linking you and your family to London's defining landmark.

Edward 'Ted' Forrest at the top of Tower Bridge

How you have helped us

Finding Edward 'Ted' Forrest

Written by Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager

Back in 2015, shortly after I had started working at Tower Bridge, I decided to create a specific mailbox calling for people with a story to tell about the Bridge. 

One of the first emails I received was from Chris Forrest, who enquired about his grandfather, Edward ‘Ted’ Forrest, who had apparently worked at the Bridge for almost 50 years between the 1930s and the 1980s. 

This lead us to the discovery of a scrap book which Ted had kept throughout his time at the Bridge, as well as numerous stories and anecdotes that were previously unknown to us. 

Ted’s photograph, alongside an interview we carried out with his son, Philip Forrest, now takes pride of place in the Engine Rooms and is viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. 

Even if you don’t visit inside Tower Bridge, pedestrians crossing the Bridge can find his memorial plaque on the south-east pavement, part of a selection of names that celebrate Tower Bridge's workers across the ages.

Image used with kind permission of P. Forrest and family.