Chelsea Bridge

The original Chelsea Suspension Bridge, built on the site of an ancient ford, was opened in 1858. It had four massive cast iron towers with ornate cross braces finished off with pinnacles, and with large lamps on the top of each tower. It was thought to be unsafe almost from the start and in 1863 it was strengthened with the addition of an extra chain on each side. By 1930 it was proving inadequate for the increasing amount of traffic and plans were drawn up for a new bridge. The original bridge was demolished in 1935.

The new bridge, opened in 1937, is a steel suspension bridge with granite piers and abutments. Unusually it is a self-anchored suspension bridge, a type where extra stress is absorbed by the stiffening girders, which takes some of the pressure off the anchorages at the abutments. Its design is utilitarian and its main decoration consists of the golden galleons and coats of arms on the lamp standards at each end of the bridge. The lamps on the main part of the bridge have been integrated into the structure. Like neighbouring Albert Bridge, it is lit up at night with lights strung along the towers and suspension chains and also floodlit from below.

Just beyond the bridge stands Grosvenor Railway Bridge, also known as Victoria Bridge. Part of the railway line runs along the bed of the disused Grosvenor Canal which gives it its name. It was opened in 1860 and consisted of five wrought iron spans carrying two tracks of mixed gauge to cater for the different gauge trains of the competing train companies. The bridge was added to twice before being completely rebuilt between 1963 and 1967. In effect it now consists of ten separate single track bridges.

Upstream view from the bridge.

Downstream view from the bridge.

View from the bridge of the impressive Battersea Power Station.

One of the lamp standards at the north end of the bridge showing the galleon on top and one of the coats of arms.

Across the road at the north side of the bridge showing the lamp standard with a different coat of arms.

The other side of the lamp standard in the previous picture showing yet another coat of arms.

On the bridge.

The Grosvenor Railway Bridge.

The underside of the railway bridge showing the ten tracks butted together.

The walk to the next bridge takes us past Nine Elms Pier where twenty or so houseboats are moored.

Ann Voysey