| Back to the CRT page | F&M Home
Albert Bridge has been under threat virtually since it was completed from City planners. A sign on it warns soldiers to break their step when crossing the bridge in case it causes the bridge to wobble. More recently incontinent dogs urinating on its iron supports have caused the wood underneath to rot.
The bridge has been saved by many different campaigns over the years including ones headed up by Sir John Betjamin in the 1950s and Diana Dors in the 1970s.
Phillip Howard described this ridged suspension bridge as: 'fussy Victorian grand manner with intricate cats-cradles of cable and curious little pagodas that crown the supports'.
Photos of Albert Bridge copyright Heike Lowenstein
In 1842 the Commissioners for Woods and Forests recommended that an embankment at Chelsea would facilitate the building of better roads (on the reclaimed land) and that a new bridge to replace the old timber one Battersea was necessary. Even after work started in 1864 construction of the Albert Bridge was delayed due to the building of these embankments. By the time the bridge was eventually completed, the new Chelsea Bridge was already in place downriver and plans to knock down Battersea Bridge had been revised to include a new crossing there as well. This meant that when the three-span iron bridge, designed by Rowland M. Ordish, was finally opened in 1873, linking Albert Bridge Road in Battersea with Oakley Street in Chelsea, it became one of three rather than the main crossing on this reach of the Thames.
There are four 21 metre high iron towers founded on a cast iron cylinder and filled with concrete. The 216 metre (12 wide) structure is supported and kept stiff by rigid metal bands radiating from the towers and viewed from the river it resembles the opening sequence of a Walt Disney film, something out of fantasia. It has been a described as a wedding cake and a surrealist fantasy, and the towers resemble minarets crossed with a spray of stays. In 1967 the Chelsea News under the headline 'new dress for trembling old lady' went onto report positively the 'gay sepia and white effect around portholes'. It is the sort of bridge that one might associate with crossing the Danube in Prague which is where Ordish built the similar Franz Joseph Bridge in 1868. This was demolished in 1949 and Ordish's straight chain suspension bridge in London could have gone the same way.
Reviews of Cross River Traffic here