Increasing Visitation to the Tower Bridge Engine Room

Sponsor: Tower Bridge  
Sponsor Liaison: Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager
Student Team: Jean-Luc Bourget, Maxwell Freeman, Krish Patel, James Watson
Abstract: The Tower Bridge Museum in London welcomes about 3,000 visitors a day, but 20-40% of visitors leave before viewing the last exhibit, the Engine Room. This project explored ways to increase the percentage of visitors who go to the Engine Room. We conducted visitor observations and staff interviews to generate hypotheses for visitation patterns, and tested low-cost implementations involving leaflets and verbal prompts. Additionally, we analyzed historical visitation data. Our implementations were unsuccessful in raising the Engine Room percentage. We found some correlations between the Engine Room percentage and other visitor statistics. We make recommendations that cover language barriers, gathering more information about visitors, and further analysis of existing data.


Data Analysis Pres. Tower Bridge

Executive Summary

Tower Bridge completed its construction in 1894 and was made to relieve traffic on the London Bridge. It opened as a historical museum in 1982. The museum contains the North and South Towers, the East and West Walkways, and the Engine Room. Over the past few years, Tower Bridge has noticed that approximately 20-40% of the Tower Bridge museum visitors are leaving the bridge before visiting the Engine Room. Skipping this exhibit has a negative impact on both the visitor and Tower Bridge, as the visitor will miss out on part of the experience they have already paid for as part of their ticket. Tower Bridge will also see decreased footfall in its Gift Shop (which is attached to the Engine Room, separate from the towers).


The goal of this project was to identify factors that affect the percentage of visitors who visit the Tower Bridge Engine Room and to test implementations that could increase that percentage. Below are our project objectives that helped us achieve this goal.

  1. Understand visitor behavior and conduct semi-structured staff interviews at Tower Bridge.
  2.  Identify and test implementations to increase the Engine Room percentage.
  3. Analyze historical Engine Room visitation to identify variables that may affect visitation.



Observation, Small Sample Interviews/Surveys with Visitors, and Staff Interviews:

We began our project by understanding visitor behavior patterns within Tower Bridge through observations and staff interviews. We observed visitors from the South Tower exit point (See Figure 1) and checked to see if they walked to the Engine Room or not.

Figure 1: Tower Bridge Exhibition Schematic (Bartlett et. al., 2022). Point 1 represents the North Tower. Point 2 represents the East and West walkways. Point 3 represents the South Tower. Point 4 represents the South Tower lower level. Point 5 represents the Engine Room.

If visitors left the path before reaching the Engine Room, we would attempt to stop and talk to them to get a better understanding of why they were leaving. Additionally, we conversed with Tower Bridge staff members and asked them the following questions:

  1. What do you think is the biggest cause of the decline in visitation to the Engine Room?
  2. During your time here, what efforts have you seen by the staff to combat the visitation issue?
  3. What do you suggest as a solution?



After our staff interviews and observations were conducted, we researched and created potential solutions with our host liaison, Dirk Bennett. Given the complex ownership of Tower Bridge, we only proposed solutions that could be implemented by Tower Bridge staff with a minimal budget and without requiring special permissions from the owners of the bridge. In cooperation with Dirk Bennett, we tested three different weekly implementations to increase the Engine Room percentage, with each one adding to the prior version. The implementations were as follows:

  • Week 1: Handing out a Tower Bridge leaflet and verbal promotion of the Engine Room at the Entrance Queue
  • Week 2: Entrance Queue verbal promotions and handing out leaflets, coupled with a short speech about visitor attractions (with an emphasis on the Engine Room) in the North Tower Lift
  • Week 3: North Tower lift speech, coupled with a person at the stairwell along the blue line directing visitors to the Engine Room


Analyzing Additional Variables such as Precipitation and Visitor Patterns

            Our group conducted data analysis on visitor data provided by Tower Bridge, including the total number of visitors, the percentage of visitors who used a London pass, the percentage of visitors who had on-line/walk-up tickets, and the percentage of visitors that were large groups. We also gathered data about precipitation. From our data, we analyzed variables that affect the percent of visitors who go to the Engine Room.



It was found that crowdedness was the biggest statistical predictor of the Engine Room percentage. Time of year, on-line percentage, and walk-up percentage also showed a correlation with Engine Room percentage. However, that may be due to those values being connected to crowdedness. London Pass percentage, visitor group percentage, and precipitation were found to have no effect on the Engine Room percentage. We found that wayfinding and visitor awareness of the Engine Room were not the main issues behind the visitation issue, contrary to what we initially believed. Language barriers were unaddressed by our implementations and remain a possible cause of this issue.



While on the bridge, our group encountered a language barrier that could not be overcome. This was not unexpected; many staff experience the same barrier every day due to Tower Bridge’s diverse audiences.

Based on the results of our implementations and data analysis, we recommend that the Tower Bridge management further research language barriers within the museum and ways to implement aids that would decrease the language barrier for visitors who are not proficient in English. One possible way to address this would be for Tower Bridge to expand the Smartify app audio tour, so it includes additional languages. This could be done by hiring a translator. Alternatively, Tower Bridge could add additional signage and leaflets for other common languages. To do this, Tower Bridge could survey visitors in the Entrance Queue about the languages they speak and accordingly provide materials to the most common languages.

To alleviate the correlation between crowdedness (total visitor numbers) and the Engine Room visitor percentage, we recommend that Tower Bridge implement a guided tour starting at the Engine Room. This tour would select batches of people (around 20 at a time) from the Entrance Queue to start their Tower Bridge experience directly at the Engine Room. This would alleviate the large crowds at the Entrance Queue and would likely increase the percentage of visitors who visit the Engine Room. Alternatively, the Tower Bridge should consider starting all tours at the Engine Room.

We also recommend that Tower Bridge should hire an analytics consultant to further research correlations between Engine Room visitor percentages and more specific visitor data. A professional could give Tower Bridge more detailed analyses and more accurate evaluations of implementations’ success. Additionally, our data analysis was limited by the fact that we only worked off of half a year’s worth of data, meaning that it could be beneficial for Tower Bridge to observe the statistical trends over a larger period of time.