Albert Bridge

Not to be confused with the Albert Bridge at Datchet
1864: Act authorising building of Albert Bridge
1873: Albert Bridge built. Originally a cantilever design by Roland Mason Ordish.
710 ft. long. 40 ft. wide. Twin ornamental cast iron towers resting on concrete foundations support the carriageway by cable-stayed rods which fan out from the top of the towers, and by suspension chains.

1873: Albert Bridge in the Illustrated London News -

Albert Bridge, 1873
Albert Bridge, 1873

1878: Albert Bridge, Henry Taunt -

Albert Bridge, Henry Taunt, 1878
Albert Bridge, Henry Taunt, 1878
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive ; HT2655

Bridge finances -

The [Albert Bridge] company was formed in 1863. Initially, £55,000 was raised in share capital under the 1864 authorising the bridge, but more was required, and subsequent Acts had to be obtained authorising an extension of the time limit and additional capital. The company took over Battersea Bridge for a Rent Charge of £3,000 in the year their new bridge was opened. The eventual share capital was £90,000 plus £30,000 of debentures. In 1875, a dividend of 5% was paid on the debentures and a mere 2% on the shares. In 1879 the Metropolitan Board of Works paid compensation for the two bridges of £170,305. In view of the time that had elapsed since share subscriptions were first paid, this was not a profitable company.

1884: Albert Bridge significantly modernised by Sir Joseph Bazalgette

1885: Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames:

A handsome new suspension bridge.

1897: Albert Bridge, James Dredge -

Albert Bridge, James Dredge, 1897
Albert Bridge, James Dredge, 1897
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive ; D230200a

1960: Albert Bridge photographed by Eric de mare in 1960

After World War II it was proposed that the bridge be demolished, but, following a high profile local protest from residents (including Sir John Betjeman) it was reprieved and re-opened in 1973 with a weight limit of 2 tons which is still in force. Two cylindrical concrete river piers to support the carriageway were added in the centre of the river. It is the only Central London bridge never to have been replaced.

John Betjeman -

... shining with electric lights, grey and airy against the London sky;
it is one of the beauties of the London river.

The bridge is not strong enough to carry modern traffic and there is now a two ton weight limit on traffic that crosses this bridge. Interesting reminders are the notices on the bridge which instruct marching troops to break step. (Perhaps these should have been on the Millenium Footbridge?) The Albert Bridge is at its most beautiful at night when it is illuminated by thousands of electric light bulbs.

Albert Bridge © 2000 Doug Myers
Albert Bridge © 2000 Doug Myers

2010: Albert Bridge closed to road traffic February 2010 to July 2011 -

Kensington and Chelsea council conceded drivers would face delays but insisted the work was necessary to refurbish and strengthen the structure.
The £7.2million project, funded by the council and Transport for London, will include removing all the paint and repainting the whole bridge, putting in new, more efficient lights, refurbishing the toll booths and relaying the entire road surface.
The 710ft grade two listed Albert Bridge will be open to pedestrians and cyclists who dismount. However, buses and heavy vehicles will still not be allowed to cross the bridge when the work is completed.
Kensington and Chelsea transport spokesman Nicholas Paget-Brown said: "The bridge is showing the signs of age. I appreciate that there will be disruption while the work is carried out, but by returning Albert Bridge to its former glory, residents and visitors to the area will be able to rest assured that they will have a bridge fit for the future."