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The Middle Drawbridge

Project Title: The Middle Drawbridge, Tower of London, London

Client: Historic Royal Palaces

Architect: Carden & Godfrey Ltd

Structural Engineer: Hockley & Dawson

Main contractor: NDB Construction Ltd

Joinery company: GMT Timber Frames Ltd

Wood supplier: Vastern Timber Ltd

Project Description:

GMT Timber Frames Ltd is a heavy carpentry manufacturer, usually commissioned to build green oak frames for houses, barns, swimming pool buildings and garages. It’s not every day we get asked to build a working drawbridge!

In autumn 2013 GMT won the bid to supply all the carpentry for The Middle Drawbridge at the Tower of London, replacing an Oak structure dating from 1915. Works involved cladding a steel frame, and creating a traditional heavy carpentry superstructure in Green Oak. The new structure includes a fixed triple arched bridge and a functioning drawbridge, a feature absent from the Tower since 1978. All works by GMT were carried out on site from a workshop located in the dry moat, by our 4 man team of craftsman carpenters from Somerset. Contract completed over a 6 week period in early 2014, and delivered on time and on budget.

English green oak was specified by English Heritage & Historic Royal Palaces, and had to adhere to strict structural grading, particularly as the decking surface will take heavy pedestrian traffic, and vehicles up to the weight of a fully laden fire engine!

It is anticipated that the new Middle Drawbridge will provide the principal entrance to one of the capital’s most iconic buildings for generations to come.