My London – Part III

london-heart-darker

I love London! ❤

Welcome to the latest in “My London” series. My last instalment was about the beautiful Albert Memorial and today’s post remains with the theme of Royalty and in particular Prince Albert.

Albert Bridge

Built in 1873 and named in honour of Prince Albert who died in 1861, Albert Bridge lies across the River Thames, connecting Chelsea (north) with Battersea (south). In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful bridges in London… perhaps even the most beautiful. It is certainly a very pretty bridge! This bridge is an iconic London landmark and has been featured in movies too. Do you remember the scene in Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow?

Iconic and beautiful as it is, Albert Bridge, although a landmark, is not a particularly famous tourist attraction due to its unobvious accessibility. Located between two primarily residential neighbourhoods, it is off the beaten track, but I think it is worth the effort. The closest Underground stations are Sloane Square and South Kensington.

I have always thought Albert Bridge to be a contradiction in essence. It is essentially a homage to Prince Albert, a man, a leader, a royal. It was built in a time when construction and development was key. It was built in a time where art, design and beauty was increasingly being incorporated into daily life and urban development, i.e. architecture. The bridge is functional, allowing the crossing of pedestrians and vehicles over the River Thames. Symbiosis of functionality and beauty; that almost perfectly summarises what the Victorians were about! However, when you look at Albert Bridge, you immediately notice a feminine facade, and even a degree of fragility. This is why I always feel it is a contradiction in essence. It is certainly a thought provoking landmark.

Albert Bridge is indeed a relatively “fragile” design, and has subsequently had to be amended, enhanced and redesigned over the years. The core structure however remains the same. Originally built as a toll bridge (a rarity on the River Thames), the toll booths still stand on both ends of the bridge. I love the restored notices attached to the booths, advising soldiers to march out of sync when crossing Albert Bridge in order to minimise the vibrations and pressure on the structure once known as “The Trembling Lady”. I love quirky details like this!

Albert Bridge is a Grade II listed building. This rating is assigned by the English Heritage. The grading identifies Albert Bridge as a building of special interest and historical importance. This means that the bridge is a protected structure, the physical image and structural integrity of which must be maintained. It is because of this that there are strict traffic limits, restricting the number, size, weight and frequency of cars that can cross the bridge.

Here are some recent photos I took of the glorious Albert Bridge. I wonder if you fall in love with it as much as I did when I first saw it as a child!

The view of Albert Bridge from Chelsea Embankment

The view of Albert Bridge from Chelsea Embankment

Crossing the river on Albert Bridge

Crossing the river on Albert Bridge

A view from the bridge ;-)

A view from the bridge 😉

The original advice to soldiers!

The original advice to soldiers!

The commemorative plaque

The commemorative plaque

Albert Bridge: baby pink, mint green, white and 4000 light bulbs! It looks like a princess cake! :-)

Albert Bridge: baby pink, mint green, white and 4000 light bulbs! 🙂

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