Dead Man's Hole - Tower Bridge
If you were to visit the Tower of London (which as I mentioned in my last post that about 2.5million people do each year) and also fancied popping along to the museum housed within Tower Bridge, then you'll walk through a rather eery looking cobbled archway. To add to the eeriness, you might notice that you're being directed towards a place called 'Dead Man's Hole'.
You see ... I wasn't kidding! You'd be forgiven for thinking twice about making the short journey and no doubt your head will become filled with various macabre thoughts as to why you're even going to a dead man's hole, what it might be and what will happen when you get there. The short answer is ... not much. Dead Man's Hole actually refers to a mortuary that at one time was housed beneath the north tower of the bridge. It's still there, but you'll be pleased to hear, no longer used. As you'll probably be aware, the Thames is tidal, and for one reason or another, corpses that found their way in to the murky river; either suicide jumpers, by accident or dumped, often found their way to this particular part of the river. Once 'fished' out of the Thames, bodies could be laid out to await identification ... if possible. The area is now closed off, but still perfectly visible as you take the steps up to the main part of the bridge.
So that's Dead Man's Hole very briefly explained. Now, the thing that never ceases to amaze me about London, is that I spend a lot of time wandering around its streets, but constantly discover things I've never noticed before. I've walked through the cobbled archway I just described loads of times, but last week was the first time I noticed that hanging on the wall is a huge pole, I'm guessing about 8 feet long, and on the end is a series of hooks.
Due to the proximity of this pole to the mortuary I just mentioned, built expressly for the purpose of taking in dead bodies retrieved from the Thames, this pole would seem to me, to be the perfect bit of equipment for pulling those corpses ashore. However, there was no explanation that I could find, no little plaque, so being an inquisitive sort of chap, I went to ask the security guard sitting in his little cabin about 10 feet away. He looked rather perplexed, mildly uninterested and admitted that he'd never actually noticed it himself, but agreed it sounded very much like the sort of thing that at one time, might have been used for the aforementioned reason.
So, if anyone is able to corroborate my theory, or indeed disprove it, then I'd be delighted to hear from you. Either way, it has added another layer of intrigue to the short walk through the archway to Dead Man's Hole.
(Incidentally - Dead Man's Hole is situated within the arch to the left on the above photo, and the pole I just mentioned is fixed to the wall, behind the door on the right hand arch behind the guy with the red jacket).
13/5/2014 05:22:39 am
As far as I'm aware that is what it was used for, although I have never officially seen evidence wrote down at the Tower.
8/12/2015 10:12:53 am
That's a good question you asked and judging by when the last message was sent you've long had a answer. Anyway regardless in answer to your question the answer is yescthats what it WAS used for although I think people have long forgotten (or just doesn't care anymore but hey) I had myself had to find out the answer to what on earth that book was used for I found out from a your guide who was luckily I'm the area at the time. He confirmed what you thought and what I was wondering at the time apparently the bed of the Thames always pushed things close to the bank but still out of reach hence the hook. He did say that no one has ever (probably gave a crap or not observant enough to see it) asked its use. He also did say that the hook is still used for pretty much the same thing (not wanting to go in to deep detail but for those who wanted to go for a swim without getting changed if you get my meaning) they use the hook to "recover" them but also more than anything else to dig out stuff that ends up in the Thames (crap like shopping trollies and God knows what else) not as exciting a explanation I know but there it is. Hope that's helped answer a question you probably give a crap about or even remember ever asking the question 😊
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