Hydraulic Landmarks and Attractions in the UK

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Hydraulics are a part of every day life; from cars and office chairs to planes and heavy machinery there are hydraulic systems behind almost every convenience of modern-day life.

Over the 200 years since Joseph Bramah invented the hydraulic press (considered to be the first hydraulic machine functioning based on Pascal’s Law), hydraulics are still being used in new and innovative ways to create fantastic and ground-breaking applications. Here are a collection of amazing hydraulic landmarks and attractions that you can visit if you’re in the UK!

1. The Anderton Boat Lift, Cheshire

2. Tower Bridge, London

We’re sure most of you will have already seen Tower Bridge many times, whether it be in person or in its hundreds of common appearances in film, TV and other media. Opened in London in 1894, Tower Bridge is more than just one of our favourite hydraulic landmarks become an icon of London and of Britain as a whole.

Since its construction, Tower Bridge has been opened using a hydraulic system. However, back then, it was powered by enormous steam engines accompanied by six massive accumulators containing the water required to lift the bascules. Since 1976, the Tower Bridge bascules have been powered by a much more modern electro-hydraulic system which is currently designed and provided by Bosch Rexroth.

To learn more about Tower Bridge and Bosch Rexroth’s involvement, following the link below.

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Tower Bridge, London

3. Curly Bridge, London

The second bridge in London to make this list is much less well known, but when we saw this creative hydraulic design in action we knew we had to share it with as many people as we could!

This bridge, located at the Paddington Basin in London, has a walkway hinged into 8 segments. Its handrails contain 7 vertical hydraulic cylinders each, located over every hinge point. When these cylinders extend, the bridge is raised from its position over the water by curling up into a compact octagonal shape.

It is ingenious designs like these that prove that hydraulic systems can still be used in innovative and ground-breaking ways even over 200 years since the first hydraulic press was designed by Joseph Bramah.

You can learn more about Joseph Bramah, in our free, downloadble Hydraulic Heroes e-book.

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4. Falkirk Wheel, Scotland

5. Stealth, Thorpe Park, Surrey

Stealth is the fastest rollercoaster in the UK and is located at Thorpe Park in Surrey.

The ride is capable of sending thrill-seekers from 0-80mph in a staggeringly fast 1.8 seconds – much faster than any current production car. How can these incredible velocities be reached so quickly? A hydraulic launch system of course!

During a hydraulic launch, a winch powered by a hydraulic motor pulls the carts along the track via a cable. The massive amounts of torque produced by the motor allow the the winch to rapidly rewind with the cart attached, accelerating the riders to break-neck speeds almost instantly.

If Thorpe Park is just a bit too far from home for you, there are similar hydraulic landmarks in hydraulic launch rollercoasters all over the world including Rita at Alton Towers and Formula Rossa at Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi among many more.

6. Grimsby Dock Tower, Lincolnshire

The oldest of the hydraulic landmarks on this list, Grimsby Dock Tower, completed construction in 1852 and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1854.

This impressive 200-foot tower is actually a hydraulic accumulator based on William Armstrong‘s design – another of our hydraulic heroes!  It carried a water tank at its very top to provide the water pressure needed to operate the hydraulic cranes which were used at the dock.

Grimsby Dock Tower was in use until 1892 when it was replaced by a new, more advanced accumulator tower. Grimsby Dock Tower was also built with a hydraulic lift to take people to the top. Unfortunately, this lift is no longer in use.

Grimsby Dock Tower - hydraulic landmarks in the UK

7. Concorde, Cambridgeshire, Manchester and Surrey

In 1976 the first commercial Concorde flight took off from London to Bahrain. Though no Concorde has flown since 2003,  today it remains one of the most significant, well-regarded and revolutionary aircraft of all time!

This iconic piece of machinery was able to take 100 passengers from London to New York at nearly twice the speed of sound (Mach 2) in less than 3 hours. To put that in perspective, these passengers were shooting across the Atlantic at 1354mph, which is faster than a bullet from a rifle.

Despite the nearly 20 years since its retirement, Concorde remains the second fastest commercial airliner ever, surpassed only by the poorly regarded Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 which only saw 2 years of service as a passenger aircraft.

Day picture of Concorde G-BOAC in hangar

In 2014 Hydraulics Online was asked if we could design and supply a hydraulic power pack which would restore functionality to the iconic droop-nose of Concorde G-AXDN at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford – a challenge that we gladly accepted!

To date, there are 3 Concordes with functional droop-snoots across the UK which contain our hydraulic systems: located at IWM Duxford, Brooklands Museum and Manchester Airport and you can learn more about our work with them here.

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8. Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Tyne & Wear

We love learning about these incredible real-world examples of hydraulics in action! If you know of any hydraulic attractions from around the world, please let us know at: feedback@hydraulicsonline.com or