Albert Bridge – Thames Tour, Bradshaw’s Handbook, no.120

The Albert Bridge no.1 was commissioned in 1864 but only completed in 1873. Prince Albert had suggested a new bridge would ease the congestion on the Chelsea Bridge and relieve the pressure on the shaky Battersea Bridge. London was expanding south of the river at this time and easy access in both directions was vital. While negotiations in London were stalled the Franz Joseph I Bridge was built in Prague to the same design as proposed for the Albert Bridge in London. (The bridge in Prague was damaged during WWII and demolished in 1949.)

Franz Joseph I Bridge in Prague, 1885 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bridge_of_Franz_Joseph_I.,_Prague.jpg)
Franz Joseph I Bridge in Prague, 1885 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bridge_of_Franz_Joseph_I.,_Prague.jpg)

The bridge in London was built by Rowland Mason Ordish on the Ordish-Lefeuvre System. There were the only two bridges ever built on this system – Prague and London. The Albert Bridge was a Toll Bridge, but not commercially successful and in 1879 it was taken into public ownership and the tolls lifted. The Toll Booths remain in place!

Chelsea Embankment & Albert Bridge being built, 1873 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ILN_Chelsea_Embankment_%26_Albert_Bridge_construction.jpg)
Chelsea Embankment & Albert Bridge being built, 1873 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ILN_Chelsea_Embankment_%26_Albert_Bridge_construction.jpg)
Albert Bridge, 1873 (http://thames.me.uk/s00180.htm#top)
Albert Bridge, 1873 (http://thames.me.uk/s00180.htm#top)
The Toll Booths on Albert Bridge today
The Toll Booths on Albert Bridge today

The design for the London bridge was not sound and in 1884-87 the bridge was modified by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who added suspension chains, effectively creating Albert Bridge no.2. A new wooden deck was also added.

Albert Bridge, 1886 (http://www.fotolibra.com/gallery/1156558/albert-bridge-chelsea-c1886/?search_hash=e7a509798678fd3f137259507f7f1812&search_offset=0&search_limit=100&search_sort_by=relevance_desc)
Albert Bridge, 1886 (http://www.fotolibra.com/gallery/1156558/albert-bridge-chelsea-c1886/?search_hash=e7a509798678fd3f137259507f7f1812&search_offset=0&search_limit=100&search_sort_by=relevance_desc)

What a beautiful photograph below by John BignellThis must be before 1972, when concrete piers were added to the middle of the bridge.

Albert Bridge before 1973, John Bignell (https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/category/chelsea/page/3/)
Albert Bridge before 1973, John Bignell (https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/category/chelsea/page/3/)

The bridge was known as ‘The Trembling Lady’ because it wobbled when crossed by lots of people in step, namely soldiers from the Chelsea Barracks – hence the sign to ‘break step’. There is a weight limit on the bridge today, as it cannot support unlimited modern traffic.

In 1972 the GLC made further modifications, adding concrete central pillars to support the middle of the bridge, creating Albert Bridge no.3, beam bridge. From 1905-81 the bridge was painted green; in 1981 it was painted yellow; and in 1992 it turned pink, blue, and green!

The Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
The Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge
The Albert Bridge at night (http://bastowsfamily.blogspot.co.uk/)
Albert Bridge at night (http://bastowsfamily.blogspot.co.uk/)

You may be interested in
The history of Albert Bridge
The Trembling Lady
Heritage Locations in the UK
Timeline & photographs – excellent site!
Books using this area – fantastic site, with the photograph by John Bignell above
John Bignell’s photographs – amazing photographer!
Beautiful photographs, including some of the Thames

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