Spanning the Thames from Chelsea
to Battersea, the stunning Albert Bridge is without doubt
London's prettiest bridge.
In 1983 it was repainted in delicate
ice cream colours and Albert Bridge adds great variety to
the London river scene. At night the elegant floodlit
structure is beautifully reflected in the swirling water below.
A 1864 Act of Parliament authorised
the construction of a bridge but there were long delays before
it was opened to traffic in 1873.Designed by Roland Mason
Ordish, Albert Bridge was originally a cantilever bridge,
with each half of the bridge being supported by bars radiating
out from the top of its supporting towers.
710 ft long bridge was made up of two side spans of 155 ft
and a centre of 400 ft. The roadway was 41 ft in width.
Built in a grand Victorian manner, the bridge was finished
with lanterns and topped by ornate pagodas giving it a vaguely
The Albert Bridge Company were
also made responsible for up-keep of Battersea Bridge but
the company could not afford to maintain either with the revenue
raised by toll charges. In 1878 both bridges were purchased
by the Metropolitan Board of Works and in 1879 became toll-free.
In 1884 Sir Joseph Bazalgette
strengthened and modernised Albert Bridge and his modifications
made the structure more like a conventional suspension bridge.
At the same time a 5 ton weight limit was imposed on vehicles.
For the following 60 years the bridge was well maintained.
After World War II the Victorian
bridge was too weak to bear the increased weight of modern
traffic. When the LCC announced that they intended to
demolish Albert Bridge there was a huge outcry from the Chelsea
conservationists, led by Sir John Betjeman. Fortunately
the conservationists overcame the town planners and Albert
Bridge was saved. As a result Albert Bridge is the only
bridge in central London never to have been replaced.
In 1973 the bridge was reopened
to light traffic after two concrete piers were constructed
under the main span to give the bridge added support.
In addition, a new lighter deck was laid and the weight limit
reduced to 2 tons.
At each end of the bridge is
a notice instructing the soldiers of nearby Chelsea Barracks
to break step when marching over the bridge. It is thought
that the vibrations caused by marching in step would damage
the delicate structure.