Albert Bridge

Albert Bridge, one of only a few original bridges in London, is one of its most impressive, especially at night when 4,000 lights on the parapets, the towers and all along the suspension chains show it off to its best. The bridge was opened in 1873 and was built on the cable-stayed principle consisting of twin ornamental cast iron towers resting on concrete foundations supporting the roadway by rods which fan out from the top of the towers. At each end of the bridge two small tollbooths were built with a bar between them to stop people from crossing without paying. The booths are still there today and are the only surviving examples in London.

The bridge was nicknamed "The Trembling Lady" because of its tendency to vibrate when large numbers of people walked over it, and signs were placed at the entrances to warn troops from the nearby Chelsea Barracks to break step whilst crossing.

Only a few years after it was built, in 1884, when the bridge was inspected, signs of corrosion were found. Over the following three years, the structure was strengthened, the cables replaced by steel chains and a new timber deck laid. In the 1970s the bridge was again strengthened and this included the installation of two cylindrical concrete piers in the middle of the river to further support the roadway. At that time also a new lighter deck was laid.

Almost from the beginning vehicle weight limits have been imposed, and from 1964 until 1990 a traffic scheme was used whereby it was only open to northbound traffic during the morning rush hour, and southbound traffic during the evening rush hour. Over the years, threats by the authorities to close the bridge have been met with great opposition and at one time a local pressure group suggested that the bridge be closed to traffic and completely pedestrianised. This idea was rejected as it was thought that it would cause too much congestion to adjacent bridges.

Now that the bridge has been given grade II* listed status, it cannot be demolished, and in February 2010 the bridge was closed to traffic and at a cost of over 7 million pounds, work to refurbish it began. The completed bridge was opened in December 2011. The pictures here were taken at a later date and replaced the original photographs which showed the bridge covered in scaffolding and canvas with just a small tunnel through for pedestrians.

Upstream view from the bridge.

Downstream view from the bridge.

One of the tollbooths with the notice stating "All troops must break step when marching over this bridge".

The towers on the south side of the bridge.

One of the 16 street lamps on the bridge.

The north towers.

The walk through Battersea Park to the next bridge passes the Peace Pagoda which can just be seen through the trees.

Ann Voysey