Thursday, July 23

Albert Bridge

From the Internets (mostly): the Albert Bridge is Grade II listed, connecting Battersea and Chelsea, and designed/built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873. The "Ordish-Lefeuvre Principle" modified cable-stayed bridge proved unsound so Sir Joseph Bazalgette retooled it as a suspension bridge in 1887. The Greater London Council carried out further strengthening work in 1973, adding two concrete piers (pictured) which changed the central span into a beam-bridge. Albert is the rare hybrid with three designs.

So.. Albert was built as a (horse) toll-bridge but commercially unsuccessful; six years later it was taken into public ownership and the tolls lifted. The toll-booths, however, remain and the only surviving examples of bridge toll-booths in London. Go figure. Albert is nicknamed "The Trembling Lady" because it used to vibrate when large numbers of people walked across; even today signs warn troops from the nearby Chelsea Barracks to break step while crossing the bridge. This same phenomenon closed the Millennium Bridge, much to our embarrassment.

Albert's roadway is narrow, only 27 feet wide, and with its "serious structural weaknesses" ill-equipped to cope with motor traffic. Despite calls for its demolition or pedestrianisation the Albert Bridge has remained open to vehicles throughout its existence and is one of only two Thames road bridges in central London never to have been replaced. The strengthening work carried out by Bazalgette and the the Council unable to prevent further deterioration of the bridge's structure. A series of increasingly strict traffic control measures have been introduced to limit its use and prolong its life, making it the least busy Thames road bridge in London except for Southward Bridge which I don't know. The bridge's condition is continues to degrade however, from traffic and rotting of the timber deck caused by urine of the many dogs using it as a route to Battersea Park, little bastards.

In '92 Albert was rewired and painted in an unusual colour scheme to avoid shipping collisions. At night it is illuminated by 4,000 bulbs.

Madeleine: "Can we go now? It is just a bridge."